Being Boston: Local woman handcrafts millions of poppies to honor veterans

BOSTON - Ann Fournier says she's had the nickname "The Poppy Lady" for 30 years, the amount of time she's been making handmade poppies in honor of veterans and soldiers.

Each day, for the past 30 years, Fournier uses her hour-long train commute to work from Berkeley to Boston to piece together paper flowers by hand to raise funds for veterans in need.

Altogether, Fournier says she's made 100,000 flowers a year and 3 million poppies ever since she started making them. The poppies are then distributed across Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

"I just start going, I can almost do it without even looking at them," said Fournier. "It's easy to do, I mean, what's two hours out of your day, that's nothing."

Fournier says making the flowers is a good way to use the two hours she spends everyday commuting into the city.

"It's time that I would be wasting and I was brought up to use every moment I have," said Fournier.

While she's got the whole process down to a science, Fournier says making the poppies is something more spiritual.

"Make it into a shepherd's hook, this is green and black - black describes the death, green is the life of a veteran or soldier," said Fournier. "We put it in the shepherd's hook and let God wrap his arms around the veteran."

After the stem is done, the four blood red petals are next.

Fournier says her hard work is how she gives back to the American Legion after it wrapped it's arms around her family. Two of Fournier's brothers served in Vietnam and one was seriously injured.

"I just like doing what I do," said Fournier.

To Fournier, her work is an important reminder for others about how such a small flower can represent something so much bigger.

"Our freedom is not free, somebody had to give a little bit more," said Fournier.

All donations raised through Fournier's poppies go directly to American Legion programs that support veterans, the military community and their families.