Some veterans didn’t quite get the respect they deserved this Memorial Day.
Walmart employees at a store in Elizabethtown, N.C.called the police on a group of veterans from the VFW trying to commemorate Memorial Day by handing out poppies, a local NBC affiliate reports. The group starting handing out artifical "Buddy Poppies" in 1992 to honor soldiers who died at war, according to its website. The poppies draw their significance from a poem called "In Flanders Field" about the flowers growing on war victims' graves. Veterans seeking donations offer the poppies, crafted by disabled and needy vets, in exchange.
A member of the veterans group claims he booked space in front of the store to hand out the poppies, but the store didn’t have it in their records. Employees at the store told the group that only one organization could have a table outside the store and that the veterans didn’t book the space far enough in advance, according to CBS Charlotte. The Walmart workers told the veterans that they were simply following company policy by asking them to leave.
Walmart told the NBC station in a statement that they would work with the veterans group to find another weekend for them to come to the store.
The Elizabethtown Walmart isn’t the only place where veterans trying to hand out poppies faced some adversity. A group of veterans in New Jersey said they often struggle to connect with shoppers when handing out poppies outside of local supermarkets and other shops, the Star-Ledger reports.
"We have to explain what poppies are. Sometimes, we even have to explain who veterans are," Henry "Red" Nadolski told the Star-Ledger.
Though this weekend's poppy snafu may outrage some Walmart critics, the company has made efforts to help veterans in the past. Earlier this month, the Walmart Foundation and Goodwill teamed up to launch a program aimed at helping veterans prepare to enter the job market. In addition, the company doubled the amount it's pledging to help military families through 2015.
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