At 10 a.m. on Feb. 3, the national president of the American Legion Auxiliary is scheduled to be escorted into the heart of Monroe, Ga. for a very special visit. She will visit the gravesite of one of Walton County's most famous residents - Moina Belle Michael.
Born in Good Hope, Ga., on Aug. 15, 1869, Michael went on to become known worldwide for using the poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those who served in World War I. Many biographies have been written on Michael, including this one on findagrave.com.
According to Elmer Swartzmeyer with the American Legion Post 64 in Monroe, the national president of the American Legion Auxiliary, (Peggy Thomas, of Richmond, Va.), will be escorted into town by the Patriot Guards/Legion Riders just before 10 a.m. Sunday. Thomas, a 31-year member of the Auxiliary, has held numerous leadership positions in the organization at the unit, district and department levels. She was elected to the top position last summer.
Michael is buried in Resthaven Cemetery, 823 East Spring Street, Monroe, Ga. According to her biography, after being inspired by the poem, In Flanders Field, which details the poppies that bloomed in the battlefields of Flanders in World War I, Michael wrote her own poem, We Shall Keep Faith. In 1918, Michael came up with the idea of using the poppy as an a symbol of remembrance for those who served in World War I. She dedicated the rest of her life getting the emblem recognized, later becoming known as the Poppy Lady. She also taught disabled serviceman at the University of Georgia in Athens for a while. The stretch of U.S. Highway 78 between Athens and Monroe was named the "Moina Michael Highway."
Still today, the poppy is the recognized symbol of remembrance for veterans and is sold to raise funds for disabled veterans in the U.S. and around the world.