The Story of the Flower

The Maccabees. The warriors who brought us the story of Hanukah, and inspired us for centuries with Jewish bravery, sacrifice, and devotion. While the Maccabees fought over two thousand years ago, it was their legacy that inspired the early Zionist to seek and fight for independence in our historic homeland of Israel, despite all hardships and challenges.

After the establishment of the State of Israel, the new country looked to incorporate a Memorial Flower much like Great Brittan, Canada and Australia’s WWI memorial flower, the Poppy. The flower that was chosen was Dam Hamaccabim, the Blood of the Maccabees.

Choosing this flower wasn’t a hard choice to make. Its name derives from the legend that wherever a Maccabea warrior’s blood fell to the ground, from that drop of blood would forever grow the red flower and its drop-like shape, the Blood of the Maccabees.

This wildflower grows only in Israel’s region, usually up in the mountains where the Maccabee battles took place. Its blossom each year is in April during the season of Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day. The legend and these characteristics of the flower made it the perfect candidate for Israel’s official Memorial Flower.

The symbology of the Dam Hamaccabim flower could not have been more fitting and empowering. The flower and its legend became a part of Israel’s ethos. As far as legends go- this one could not have been more real as it was embedded into our culture and perception of loss. The flower carried the message of growth from loss and the ability to always choose life. It is a constant reminder that all that blossoms and thrives in our country- is in the merit of the brave men and women who gave their lives for us, our country, our heritage and our people.

The flower became popular as stamps and depicted in monuments and military graveyards throughout the country. However, as a delicate protected wildflower growing in the mountains, it was never actually worn on Yom HaZikaron. In its stead, Israelis would wear a sticker with a picture of the flower. This changed last year.

After two years of agricultural research, and much trial and error, we managed together with Israeli expert botanists to cultivate the very first Dam Hamaccabim field. We established, for the first time in history, a field designated to not only growing these wildflowers but also having them blossom three months before their natural blossom. The field and the early blossom made it possible for us, in 2019 to initiate our very first pilot year of distributing 30,000 pins on Yom HaZikaron throughout the country, and even to the pioneering community of Orange County. By 2020, and despite Covid challenges- we distributed 50,000 pins. For the upcoming 2021 Yom HaZikaron- we hope to reach up to 120,000 pins nationwide.

The overwhelming acceptance of our project was beyond anything we had anticipated. The flower was worn as a pin by soldiers and firefighter, members of the Knesset and news anchors, bereaved families and the many who came to stand with them throughout the difficult day of Yom HaZikaron. We received heartfelt responses and requests from the many who wore the flower or heard of our project.

It seems that on such a day when words fail us, there is no substitute for holding the flower, the live flower, grown from the earth of our homeland we love so much. It is a flower that caries so much history, symbology, and meaning, that it deserves to be worn by us all. For us all.