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Thought of you and your family. Everyone knows the Canadian poet John
McCrae's poem 'In Flanders Fields' originally named "We Shall Not Sleep" .
History sleep very close in Normandie and into the Pas de Calais. Perhaps
this other poem might be of interest to you. Moina Michael was from
Georgia, America and during the Great War worked with the Overseas YMCA War
Workers. In September 1918 she took leave of absence from her post at the
university of Georgia and arrived at the YMCA training headquarters at
Columbia University, New York City, where she had originally been a student
She was barred from overseas service due to her age - she was 49. However,
Dr J W Gaines, president of the Overseas YMCA Secretaries, helped Moina stay
with the organisation by giving her a job at the training headquarters where
she worked until January 1919.
. 'The Miracle Flower', her book , describes an experience deeply
spiritual, where she felt as though she was actually being called in person
by the voices which had been silenced by death. Miss Michael made a personal
pledge to 'keep the faith' and vowed always to wear a red poppy of Flanders
Fields as a sign of remembrance and as an emblem for "keeping the faith with
all who died". On the morning of Saturday 9 November 1918 three men from the
Twenty-fifth Conference of the YMCA Overseas Secretaries appeared at Miss
Michael's desk. On behalf of the delegates they asked her to accept a cheque
for $10 in appreciation of her efforts to brighten up the headquarters with
She was touched by the gesture and replied that she would buy twenty-five
red poppies with the money. She showed them the illustration for John
McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields" in the Ladies Journal, together with her
poem "We Shall Keep the Faith", which she had written in reply. The
delegates took both poems back into the Conference.
With the ten dollars she purchased one large and twenty-four small
artificial red silk poppies in Wanamaker's store. She returned to duty at
the YMCA Headquarters. Delegates from the Conference asked her asking for
poppies to wear. Keeping one poppy for her coat collar she gave out the rest
of the poppies to the enthusiastic delegates.
According to Moina, since this was the first group-effort asking for poppies
to wear in memory of "all who died in Flanders Fields", and since this group
had given her the money with which to buy them, she considered that she had
consummated the first sale of the Flanders Fields Memorial Poppy on 9
The Poppy to raise money for the benefit of those who were suffering as a
result of the war was largely due to the work of a French woman, Madame
Madame Guérin had been present at the National American Legion Convention in
September 1920 when the Memorial Poppy was proclaimed as the United States'
national emblem of remembrance. In the name of the American and French
Children's League Madame Guérin sold millions of poppies, made by French
women, throughout the United States to aid rehabilitation in the areas of
France devastated by the First World War.
In 1921 Madame Guérin sent French women to London to sell poppies, which
introduced the Memorial Poppy idea to the British. Madame Guérin visited
Earl Haig and persuaded him to adopt the Flanders Poppy for the British
Legion, which was done in the autumn of 1921.
The spelling in this poem is in the American language. Moina Michael was an
We Shall Keep the Faith
by Moina Michael, November 1918
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.
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