Field of ‘Poppies’ Springs Up at Sag Harbor Memorial

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A field of 150 red plastic poppies was created by the Sag Harbor American Legion Auxiliary on Sunday in front of the World War I memorial on Main Street. Christine Sampson photo

Each of the 150 red plastic poppies displayed in front of the World War I memorial on Main Street has a dark green ribbon bearing the name of a Sag Harbor veteran. When the wind blows, the ribbons flap gently with an almost military uniformity, fitting as Memorial Day approaches. Those that are also adorned with black ribbons represent someone who was killed in action. The field of poppies was “planted” Sunday afternoon as the culmination of an almost two-month-long fundraising and remembrance project by the Sag Harbor American Legion Auxiliary.

“It exceeded our expectations,” said JoAnn Lyles, the member who coordinated the project, which was inspired by a similar one the Southold American Legion Auxiliary has done the last few years. Four poppies were planted in memory of Ms. Lyles’s son, Lance Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter, a Marine who died ten years ago in the line of duty.

Fourteen members of the Auxiliary took turns speaking the veterans’ names as they pushed the metal “stems” into the ground in front of the memorial. Some of them would get emotional when the poppies they planted represented a loved one – a father, a mother, an uncle, a brother-in-law, a son.

“I got all choked up. It’s an absolutely beautiful tribute,” said Cathy Santacroce Worwetz, whose father, Frank Santacroce, and mother, Anne Tedesco Santacroce, both served in the U.S. Army, and whose names appear on ribbons in the field of poppies on Main Street.

The red poppy as a symbol for veterans’ causes comes from the poem “In Flanders Fields,” by the Canadian physician Lt. Col. John McCrae, eponymous of the World War I battlefield. The poppies in Sag Harbor will be on display through the week following Memorial Day. Those who sponsored the poppies may “pick” them beginning June 2.

“What we’re hoping is people will read all the names to find they one they’re looking for,” Ms. Lyles said. “Speak their names and they’re not forgotten.”

Fourteen members of the Sag Harbor American Legion Auxiliary gathered Sunday to create a display of red plastic poppies in front of the World War I memorial on Main Street. Each poppy is named in memory of a veteran who has passed away or in honor of a veteran who is either retired or active duty. Christine Sampson photo
JoAnn Lyles, who coordinated the poppies project, reads the name of a veteran from the ribbon of a poppy before planting it at the World War I memorial in Sag Harbor. Christine Sampson photo
Margaret Cary-Smyth, left, and Lisa Koehne, right, pause for a moment among the poppies created by the Sag Harbor American Legion Auxiliary on Sunday. Christine Sampson photo
Jeannie Notturna of Sag Harbor plants a plastic poppy in front of the World War I memorial in memory of her father, Michael Martino, who served in the U.S. Army. Her son, Master Sgt. James M. Calfa, is active duty with the U.S. Army. Christine Sampson photo
JoAnn Lyles, right, readies a box full of poppies for “planting” at the World War I memorial ahead of the Memorial Day parade. Christine Sampson photo
A close-up of the plastic-and-metal poppies made by the Sag Harbor American Legion Auxiliary made in honor of local veterans and active-duty military personnel and those lost during conflict for this coming Memorial Day. Christine Sampson photo

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