Moina Michael (1869–1944) grew up in rural Good Hope, Georgia. She started teaching at a young age, holding her first class at 15 years old. For the next several years Michael taught in a variety of schools and from 1913–14 studied at Columbia University. After her stint at Columbia, she traveled to Europe and then returned home to teach courses at the University of Georgia. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Michael took a leave of absence from teaching and traveled to New York to assist with the YMCA, training workers who served overseas. Though she herself did not go abroad during the war, one of her greatest contributions to the effort was a poem that she wrote in response to John McCrae’s “In Flanders Field” called “We Shall Keep the Faith.” She also began the tradition of using the red poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those who gave their lives in war, a tradition that has been adopted by the American Legion and countries around the world.
Author: Moina Michael
John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields” resonated deeply with the public, even in the then-neutral United States. Three years later, when the United States had entered the conflict, Moina Michael (1869–1944), an educator and volunteer trainer of nurses, wrote “We Shall Keep the Faith,” as a response of the living to the call of the dead in McCrae’s poem.