Today is Memorial Day 2012 and here, at Sharon Barber Purses, we are wearing our Remembrance Poppy. We pause to remember and honor all men and women soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their life while serving as a soldier in a war.
Moina Michael was a U.S. professor and humanitarian who conceived the idea of using poppies as a symbol of remembrance for those who served in World War I. She was born in Good Hope, Georgia and was a professor at the University of Georgia when the U.S. entered World War I. She took a leave of absence from her work and volunteered to assist in the New York-based training headquarters for overseas Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) workers.
Inspired by the Canadian John McCrae’s battlefront-theme poem “In Flanders Fields”, she published a poem in response called We Shall Keep the Faith. In tribute to the opening lines of McCrae’s poem — “In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses row on row,” — Michael vowed to always wear a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those who served in the war.
After the war was over, Michael returned to the University of Georgia and taught a class of disabled servicemen and women. Realizing the need to provide financial and occupational support for these servicemen and women, she pursued the idea of selling silk poppies as a means of raising funds to assist disabled veterans. In 1921, her efforts resulted in the poppy being adopted as a symbol of remembrance for war veterans by the American Legion Auxiliary.
Known as the “Poppy Lady” for her humanitarian efforts, Michael received numerous awards during her lifetime. In 1948, four years after her death, the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp honoring her life’s achievement. In 1969, the Georgia General Assembly named a section of U.S. Highway 78 the Moina Michael Highway.
We Shall Keep the Faith
Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.
In Flanders Fields we fought