I wrote this post several months ago, with the intention of posting it on Veteran’s Day. But my computer died; and the only place I know where you can access free computers was closed.
With a history buff of a brother, I visited many historic sites in Georgia. I think we visited every battlefield in the state. Also, whenever we traveled our family stopped and read most historical markers on the side of highways when traveling the state. I am embarrassed to say I never heard of a fellow Georgian named Moina Belle Michael until my friend asked if I could get a copy of a book called The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans written by Barbara Elizabeth Walsh and illustrated by Layne Johnson. Her son is a history buff too. (For all my Georgia friends who travel Hwy. 78 the section of road between Athens and Monroe is named after her.)
Last year, while walking in a Christmas parade, ML and I received poppies on American Flags . I tried to explain the significance of the poppy; but it didn’t seem to sink in. Six months later we read this beautifully illustrated book.
My library doesn’t own the book. I requested it via Interlibrary Loan; but forgot to write a synopsis before returning it. Here’s Amazon’s… “When American soldiers entered World War I, Moina Belle Michael, a schoolteacher from Georgia, knew she had to act. Some of the soldiers were her students and friends. Almost single-handedly, Moina worked to establish the red poppy as the symbol to honor and remember soldiers. And she devoted the rest of her life to making sure the symbol would last forever. Thanks to her hard work, that symbol remains strong today. Author Barbara Elizabeth Walsh and artist Layne Johnson worked with experts, primary documents, and Moina’s great-nieces to better understand Moina’s determination to honor the war veterans.”
I’m a firm believer beautifully illustrated and meticulously researched picture books are one of the most effective ways to teach history. I know I am a little biased; but here’s my proof. At the end of the book, ML said “Wait a minute.” She ran into her room. Immediately I knew what she was searching for… the flag with the poppy.
On Veteran’s Day, ML and I remembered the veterans we know. One is our neighbor across the street, a World War II vet. Recently, he told us an amazing story about capturing fourteen Germans by himself. It wasn’t through violence. Instead, his quick thinking helped him pull of this amazing feat. Another is our favorite employee at Whole Foods who is retired from the navy. It didn’t seem fair I wished him Happy Veteran’s Day while I was buying french toast and a tea. I had the day off. He didn’t.