KANSAS CITY -- Justin Verlander was handing out red poppy flowers around the Tigers' clubhouse on Monday afternoon, even saving a few for the media. He did it for a cause close to his heart.
As part of a national campaign, Verlander is trying to raise awareness of the poppy flower as a remembrance of those who have died in military service. It's a tradition dating to World War I; the poem "In Flanders Fields" references poppies growing over soldiers' graves. The poppy is a well-known symbol of Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom, marking the end of hostilities in World War I.
Verlander, whose Wins for Warriors Foundation works to empower military veterans and connect them with the appropriate organizations for the help they need back home, filmed a commercial that aired over the Memorial Day weekend to note the significance of the poppy here in the U.S.
"We all know someone who served, someone who gave the ultimate sacrifice," Verlander said in the commercial. "But today, we don't mourn their deaths. We celebrate their lives. We honor their services. We remember these heroes and their sacrifice by wearing the poppy flower."
People can dedicate a virtual poppy flower for a veteran at poppyinmemory.com.
Verlander has hosted more than 4,000 veteran family members since starting the Wins for Warriors campaign in 2011 to help veteran receive mental health support in Detroit and his native Virginia. He expanded Wins for Warriors into a nonprofit organization last year.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.