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The Poppy Lady Explores How The Red Poppy Became Tribute For U.S. Vets

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y., Nov. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Barbara Elizabeth Walsh brings to life the story of World War I humanitarian Moina Belle Michael in The Poppy Lady (Calkins Creek Books), and a portion of proceeds will go to support the National Military Family Association's Operation Purple®. The title comes from the nickname Moina earned working for more than 25 years to establish the poppy as a universal tribute to U.S. war veterans.

In this book, illustrated by Layne Johnson, Walsh shares her account of a woman who lived by the motto: Whatsoever your hands find to do, do it with all your might. Moina's community service began at age 15 when she started teaching – a career that would span more than five decades. Though she prayed war would never come, Moina refused to sit by as soldiers risked their lives to serve their country. Volunteer work with the YMCA provided opportunities to knit socks and roll bandages for the Red Cross, but it wasn't enough.

Already in her late forties when war was declared, Moina's best hope to assist was an appointment through the YMCA Overseas War Workers. Although her age barred her from overseas service, Moina was sent to the training headquarters for the YMCA Overseas War Secretaries organization. There Moina read a poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, written as a tribute to the soldiers he could not save on the battlefield of Flanders that concluded: 

If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields

Inspired, Moina vowed to have the poppy become a national emblem of remembrance to honor and support war veterans. To this day, veterans stand outside stores during the weeks before Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and distribute poppies, raising millions of dollars for other veterans and their families.

Barbara Elizabeth Walsh's inspiration for The Poppy Lady came at age 10, when while searching for a school "Show and Tell" item; she came across a postcard from Moina Belle Michael that was addressed to Walsh's mother during the time her father was serving in World War II.  Barbara spent several years as a teacher before writing full time. Her short stories have appeared in magazines, including Highlights for Children and Cricket.

SOURCE Barbara Walsh

Copyright 2011 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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