Veteran’s Day with the The Poppy Lady

Walsh, Barbara E, and Layne Johnson. The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans. Honesdale, Pennsylvania: Calkins Creek, 2012. Print.

The story of Moina Belle Michael is unfamiliar to many that have grown up in the past twenty or thirty years. To older Americans, her name may have slipped, but the memory of veterans with poppies is as familiar as an often-recited poem about Flanders Fields.  For me, those memories date back to my neighbor, Mr. Yeager and his ever-present cigar. He was a veteran of WWI and I remember seeing him outside Kresge’s Dime Store giving away poppies and encouraging everyone to remember the veterans. He was my poppy guy. Today, my father is in a veteran’s home, but is not engaged in making poppies, he writes feature stories for their in-house newsletter.

For those with no background knowledge, The Poppy Lady provides a perfect opportunity to gain both perspective and appreciation. The story crafted by Walsh is filled with inspiration to future generations with her oft cited “But she wanted to do more.” The oils by Layne Johnson provide a powerful backdrop for war and its aftermath. Together, the words and pictures tell of a time, place, and way of life that are all to unfamiliar to Americans, even when war is ongoing. The story provides opportunity to reflect: upon one’s past, future, and all the space in between where we too can do more.

Schools and public libraries will want to add The Poppy Lady to their collections. It is more than a child’s picture book with a civics lesson. Perhaps an ideal way to do more is to make a gift of this book to a veteran’s organization or home. Creative classroom teachers will see plenty of opportunities to continue the traditions and spread the word of The Poppy Lady.


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