[Zim’s Side Note: I received the following email in regards to the Remembrance Poppy post and Moina Bell Michael, the “Poppy Lady.” Thank you again Barbara for sharing such a wonderful story. You can pre-order Barbara’s children’s picture book over at Amazon. A portion of the book’s proceeds will support the National Military Family Association’s Operation Purple®, which benefits children of the U.S. military.]
I loved your historically accurate article this past Memorial Day, especially your recognition of Moina Belle Michael, a woman who is one of our finest “unsung heroes.”
I first “met” Moina when I was ten-years-old and living in Pennsylvania. For show-and-tell our class was asked to share a memory of a family member who had served during war time. My Dad had a box in the attic labeled, “Pat-World War II, and I found a postcard addressed to my Mom and signed, “Pat’s Poppy Lady.” Attached to the corner of the postcard was a small, red poppy. The kind we would wave on Memorial Day while my Dad, uncles, and soldier buddies marched in the parade.
My Dad met Moina in 1942 when he was studying radio communications at the University of Georgia before heading overseas. He was young and alone and had just found out that his two brothers were missing in action. He and three hundred other signal corps boys were staying in the Georgian Hotel, and Moina lived on a floor above them. One day, while my father was sitting in the hotel lobby, Moina approached him and started a conversation. She asked about his girl back home and listened to worries about his brothers. My Dad will turn 98 this weekend, and he still talks about his “Poppy Lady” and how much he appreciated her kindness.
When I started to write for children Dad asked that I write about Moina. His dream was to let others know the impact she’d had on his life and the lives of his soldier buddies.
His dream will come true this September with the release of my children’s picture book, The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans. My research took years to complete, but I had the pleasure of working with Moina’s two great-nieces and experts from the University of Georgia, Columbia University, the VFW and American Legion Auxiliary, all eager to share Moina’s story with others.
In January, Dad and I were interviewed by a producer from Georgia Public Broadcasting for a special documentary about Moina, and I’d love to share the video with you.
Thank you again for your lovely article.
Barbara Elizabeth Walsh