Y Secretary Moina Belle Michael
The Los Alamos County Council has declared today as Poppy Day in Los Alamos. The story of how the poppy originated as the symbol to honor service men and women dates back to 1918.
Memorial Day, a federal holiday celebrated May 25 this year, was created to remember people who died while serving in this country’s armed forces. It was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated in memory of fallen Civil war soldiers.
Memorial Day is different from Veteran’s day (Nov. 11) that celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, however it was events around the Nov. 11 date that prompted a Y secretary to create the red Poppy memorial. It is a moving story, inspired by the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” written by a Canadian soldier John McCrae.
Y Secretary Moina Belle Michael, two days before Armistice Day in November of 1918, was working at the YMCA Overseas War Secretaries’ headquarters in New York when she had a moment and read the poem in a magazine a soldier had left.
She described this experience as deeply spiritual, and soon began a campaign to get the Poppy emblem adopted in the United States as a national memorial symbol.
The full story of that event is available here.