Alabama Poppy Project continues tradition of honoring fallen service members

The Alabama Poppy Project is underway at Spillway Park in Prattville.
Published: May. 29, 2023 at 4:05 PM CDT|Updated: May. 29, 2023 at 10:26 PM CDT
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PRATTVILLE, Ala. (WSFA) - There is so much symbolism on display at Prattville’s Spillway Park. The community and service members have been marching through thousands of ceramic poppies covering the grass, all in remembrance of service members they’ve lost.

The Alabama Poppy Project goes up every year in time for Memorial Day as a tribute to those who have served and lost their lives. It’s a project that grew from one family’s grief.

Julianne and Steven Hansen started the project in memory of their son Capt. Kyle S. Hansen. He was an Air Force pilot who died in 2017 at just 24 years old. The poppies were inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields” by World War I soldier Lt. Col. John McRae.

Steven Hansen described the project as a way “to help not only remember that there’s more than just an inscription on a headstone somewhere, that there’s a story behind every one of these people.”

This year, more than 2,000 ceramic poppies were on display. Many of them were handmade by the Hansens.

“It’s a wonderful way to share that legacy, keep the memory alive of our fallen heroes,” said Julianne Hansen.

Each year, the Hansens tie a ribbon around a poppy, and they encourage other families of fallen service members to do the same as a simple way to show appreciation.

“When we hear individuals tell us about how this makes them feel, how they’re so grateful to be able to honor their loved ones in a very reverent, moving way, it’s priceless. It really is,” Julianne Hansen said.

The Hansens said the Alabama Poppy Project helps them all recognize Memorial Day and pay tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

This year, they also recognized the late Autauga County Sheriff Joe Sedinger, who dies last year after a brief battle with cancer. The Hansens said Sedinger was a vetens himself and a big supporter of the project.

This year’s Alabama Poppy Project runs through Wednesday.

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