After decades of being allowed to hand out the red flowers around Memorial Day the post office is saying 'no more' and the policy is meant to be consistent and fair to all.
Veterans in Monroe County are fighting a new and unusual war over poppies -- against the United States Post Office.
After decades of being allowed to hand out the red flowers around Memorial Day the post office is saying 'no more'.
According to a USPS spokesperson, it’s a federal policy that isn’t new and released this statement:
“Postal policy states solicitation is not allowed on postal property. Though there are many worthy organizations, including veterans' groups, the policy is meant to provide consistency and fairness to all."
But veterans have also been distributing poppies for decades.
Dan Lindsay with the Rice-Hallick VFW Post 5465 said he had verbal approval to be out in front of the Jefferson Road Post Office but was still told to leave.
”The plant manager said you don’t have a right to be here. Only the western district manager can give approval and you have to leave,” said Lindsay.
Poppies honor the dead who fought for freedom. They are the only means of fundraising for VFW's and can only be handed out around Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
“Last year for Memorial Day, at the post office for 12 days, we collected $4,058,” said Lindsay. “This year, at the moment, we probably have $25.”
Lindsay thinks the change may be connected to the new regional postmaster sworn in just this week. Regardless, someone retaliated against the enforcement stealing the American flag from the Jefferson Road Post Office, which has since been replaced.
Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo sent the following letter in response to the local USPS and federal representatives:
“Today I requested that our local Postal Service reconsider enforcement of the regulation prohibiting veterans' groups from selling Buddy Poppies and flags at the Post Office. We often rely on symbols, like a Buddy Poppy, to remind us what it means to be an American. We are a nation that honors our veterans and bestows upon them the dignity and support they have earned through their service. Rather than move forward, however, this decision is surely a step in the wrong direction.
On Memorial Day, our community will pause to honor the men and women who laid down their lives in defense of the values and liberties that define our great nation. In somber reflection and with great humility we recognize their sacrifice, as we seek to carry on a legacy of respect for those in service.”
Lindsay says his VFW isn’t giving up on the post office. In the meantime the county has invited veterans to host their poppy stands at the DMV.
Lindsay’s Rice-Hallick VFW Post 5465 will host their next stand on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. at the Henrietta DMV, located at 2199 East Henrietta Road.