The Santa Rosa News from Santa Rosa, New Mexico on October 30, 1936 · Page 14
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The Santa Rosa News from Santa Rosa, New Mexico · Page 14

Santa Rosa, New Mexico
Issue Date:
Friday, October 30, 1936
Page 14
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SANTA ROSA NEWS A Trio of Trim Togs this story--a British army officers' poem, with its reference to a vivid and striking symbol, coming to the attention of an American woman just two days before the Armistice was signed; the visit of the war workers to her office at the moment when she By ELMO SCOTT WATSON HIS is the story of how America acquired a new emblem --that red poppy which you will be wearing on Armistice Day. Its flaming- petals are symbols of the American blood that was shed on the battlefields of Europe during the war-torn years of 1914-18. But, more than that, it. is a memorial which honors not only the men who died "over there" but also those who came back alive with the scars of that world tragedy engraved deep upon their bodies and minds--our disabled veterans. This is also the story of how the American adoption of that emblem for Armistice Day has spread to other countries until the red poppy now has almost as much international significance as that other universal symbol--the Red Cross. Finally, this is the story of an interesting coincidence. Rather, it is the story of two coincidences--and one of them is- a shining example of how "history repeats itself." The day was Saturday, November 9, 1918. Throughout America people were waiting--waiting for the news which would free many a home from fear and dread. Two days earlier their hopes had been raised to the skies, then dashed to the ground by that incident of the "false armistice." But now they knew, the event was inevitable, that the war was almost over. On that November morning a woman was sitting at a desk in Hamilton hall on the campus of Columbia university in New York City. She was Miss Moina Michael, a member of the Y. W. C. A. overseas headquarters staff. A soldier entered the room and placed a copy of a magazine on her desk. Leafing through it, she noticed a poem. She started to read: "In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between t h e crosses, row on r o w . . . " She read it through, then deeply stirred by the lines which had been penned by Col. John McCrae of the British army, she read it again and again. Then in sudden inspiration she seized a pen and a sheet of paper and wrote this reply to it:' 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 ail 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'll wear in honor of our dead. Fear not that ye have died for naught; We'll teach the lessons that ye wrought In Flanders Fields. When she had finished, she repeated to herself "the poppy red we'll wear in honor of our dead." She would do that herself and she would ask others to do it too. At that moment three overseas Y. M. C. A. and Y. W. C. A. workers, who had been attending a conference at Columbia, came into the room. They had brought her a check for $10 in appreciation of her efforts to make a model hostess house of their headquarters. The First Coincidence Immediately Miss Michael told them about the poem she had just read and the one she had written in reply to it. Furthermore she told them that the $10 would be spent to buy poppies for her friends to wear in honor of those who "lie in Flanders fiolds." They were as enthusiastic about the idea as she was. Returning to their conference, they spread the news among the other Y. M. an Y. W. workers. That afternoon everyone there" was wearing a red poppy, provided by Miss Michael. Thus the first coincidence in MISS MOINA MICHAEL "The Poppy Lady," Who Gave the Nation an Emblem for Armistice Day. was aglow with the inspiration of a great idea, and their gift which made it possible to put her plan into immediate effect. T h e next m o r n i n g M i s s Michael went to see her friend, Dean Talcott Williams of t h e Columbia school of journalism. She explained her idea to him. He was much impressed and offered to pass it along to a war workers' committee which was meeting that afternoon. On that committee were Mrs. Preston (the widow of President Cleveland), Rodman Wanamaker and other notables. Their indorse- ment of the idea would give its adoption a tremendous impetus. They indorsed it enthusiastically --so Dean Williams reported to Miss Michael after the meeting. November 11--at last, the news for which everyone had been waiting. The Armistice was signed! The war was over! After the first thrill of victory had passed, after the tumult and shouting of the celebrations had subsided, people began to think solemnly, reverently of those who had helped win that victory but were denied the joy of knowing that the victory was won. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. America, thinking of them, turned a sympathetic ear to this woman who was giving all her energies to spreading the idea of the poppy as a national emblem. 3he wrote innumerable letters-to women's clubs, to patriotic organizations, to educational institutions, to civic bodies. "Out of every great event of the world has come an emblem." she said, "Into this war went many emblems: the flags of the nations, the Red Cross, 'the Red Triangle, the service flag and pin. Now out of this war should come some symbol perpetually to remind us and unfailingly to teach coming generations the value of the light of liberty and our debt to those who so valiantly saved it for us." She pointed out that it was impossible to have triumphal arches or great memorials in all places from which came men who gave their lives in the war. But they could be honored by everyone, even the lowliest, by wearing the red poppy. As a result the poppy idea was introduced into many of the homecoming celebrations during 1919. Adopted by Legion On the eve of the Georgia state convention of the American Legion, August 19 and 20, 1920, in Augusta, Miss Michael went to the Legion headquarters in Atlanta and turned over to them her arguments concerning the adoption of the poppy. Charles M. Galliene of Post No. 1, Atlanta, took charge of the material and presented the movement to the convention. It was adopted and the delegation to the national convention was instructed to present it at Cleveland, Ohio, and to support the resolutions. The resolutions were presented to the national convention in September, 1920, and the poppy became the national American Legion memorial flower. As the idea spread in this'coun- try, word of it was carried across the Atlantic. Mme. E. Guerin of Paris read Miss Michael's poem pledging to "kaep the faith" and of her plan for wearing poppies to memorialize the sacrifices of the war. She immediately organized the American and French children's league and sold poppies for the benefit of war orphans in France. In an official report which she issued from Canada early in February she announced: " T h e World war veterans have sold 1,000,000 small poppies and 200,000 large ones, clearing $90,000 lor their relief wotk and for the French, $80,000 to go to the poor French children of the battlefields." An International Emblem In England the poppy program flourished tremendously. Earl Haig's British Legion adopted the selling and wearing of poppies in 1921 and since that time more wear the blood-colored blossoms in their lapels: Italy, Holland, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, Greece and Rumania. Poppies are even worn in Japan, China, Mexico, Asia Minor and in every country of North and South America. In this country the making of "buddy poppies," as they are called, has become an important factor in the disabled veterans' rehabilitation work. They are made by disabled ex-service men in hospitals in the East, at piecework cost and the state departments of the Veterans of Foreign Wars all taken certain quotas. A small amount is deducted for national and state relief and the rest goes to the posts that sell the poppies to be used as their relief needs arise. The veterans are paid one and one- quarter cents for every poppy they make and some of them are skillful .enough to turn out from 800 to 400 poppies in a day, thereby earning about $5.00. As for the woman who started all this -- today the name of Moina Michael means "The Poppy Lady" throughout the world. She is one of two women who received the Distinguished Service Medal- of the American Legion, the other being Mrs. Calvin Coolidge. A few years ago the Georgia general assembly by resolution conferred upon her the title of "distinguished citizen" for she is a native of the city of Athens in that state. The Second Coincidence And therein lies the second coincidence in this story. Back in the spring of 1865 when the War Between the States was drawing to a close, the women of Columbus, Ga. decorated the graves of their war dead and the following January the members of the Ladies Aid society in that city decided to perpetuate the custom. They picked upon April 26, 1866, the anniversary of the surrender of Gen. Joseph Johnston, the last formal act of the war, as the date for their Memorial day celebration. Since that time April 26 has been observed as Confederate Memorial day in the states of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Georgia and it is also World War Memorial day in the latter state. From the South the idea of an annual Memorial day for decorating the graves of tha Disabled World war veterans making "buddy poppies" to be sold throughout the country by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, the proceeds being devoted exclusively to welfare work among disabled veterans and ex-service men. than $11,000,000 has been cleared for ex-service men. In 1927 alone the British legionnaires sold 28,000,000 poppies and made a profit of $2,522,000. In 1928 the sales reached the $3,000,000 mark. Instead of the poppy becoming a national emblem, as Miss Michael first dreamed, it has become an international emblem. In Europe, besides the British Isles and France, 19 countries war dead spread to the North, even though a different day. May 30, was chosen for its observance. But it was a group of Georgia women who gave to the nation the idea of Memorial day and it was a Georgia woman who gave to it the idea of the red poppy as a symbol of that other day of memory--Armistice Day. © Western Newspaper Unioa. This trio of trim togs offers an appealing variety to the wornEin who sews at home. There is style and economy in every design. Pattern No. 1950, the tunic, is one of the season's smartest, featuring a modish stand-up collar and just the right amount of flare or "swing." A grand ensemble for any youthful figure. Simply and inexpensively made, this clever pattern is designed f o r sizes: 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20; 30, 32, 34, 36, 38 and 40. Size 14 requires three and one-eighth yards for the tunic in 39 inch material and two yards for the skirt. Five-eighths yard ribbon required for the bow. 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