Moina Michael: The Woman Behind The Memorial Poppy To Honor Fallen Soldiers

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Moina Michael_stamp_lead
HistoryHoliday 1 Comment

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.

– Moina Michael, 1915

Woman You Should Know Moina Michael was a U.S. professor and humanitarian. Inspired by “In Flander’s Fields,” a poem written by John McCrae in 1915 during World War I that refers to the red poppies which grew near the battlefields of that horrific conflict and over the graves of its fallen soldiers, she published her own poem, “We Shall Keep Faith,” and also vowed to permanently wear a memorial poppy.

She took her memorial poppy sentiment one step further while teaching a class of disabled veterans at the University of Georgia in 1918. Realizing how much support such men needed, she came up with the idea of selling artificial poppies to raise funds for America’s disabled veterans.

Moina Michael_Poppy LadyHer organizational ability soon was clear, as millions of people bought paper or silk poppies to wear as lapel pins on national days of remembrance. Women both made and sold them, and the endeavor raised so much money that the American Legion adopted the poppy as its symbol and honored Moina Michael with its highest award.

By the time of Michael’s death in 1944, over $2 million had been raised for veterans’ programs and the purpose and spirit behind her campaign continues to this day. The remembrance poppy remains one of the world’s most recognized memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict.

  • WomenYSK

    Hi Kelly – Thanks very much for your comment. You are correct… John McCrae’s “In Flander’s Fields” references the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers. This was the inspiration behind the remembrance poppy becoming one of the world’s most recognized memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict. Ms. Michael then conceived of the idea of selling artificial poppies to raise funds for America’s disabled veterans. We have made an adjustment to the post to make sure both facts are clear. – The WYSK Team

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