In the UK and some countries of the Commonwealth, the poppy symbol began to be used after World War I to commemorate the deaths of soldiers in wars on Remembrance Day, their equivalent to Memorial Day in the US. Little red plastic poppies are given out in return for a charitable contribution and then worn on the clothing to signify that the person has donated money to the cause. Collectors will stop you in the street or come to offices (with permission) with little tin cans into which you drop your money and get a flower in return.
In the US, we do not have charities going up to people and asking for a charitable donation in return for a token but the pressure can be similar. Here it is the flag pin or the flags flown on cars and houses especially when wars are begun, or demands that stores say ‘Merry Christmas’, and to a lesser extent, the ‘I voted today’ stickers that have become ostentatious symbols that one is on the ‘right’ side. This can have the effect that those who do not publicly conform are somehow lesser people.
Jonathan Pie rails about how what were once harmless symbols have now become weaponized and used to stoke nationalism and pressure people. (Language advisory)