On November 9, 1918, teacher Moina Michael was on duty to help with the 25th Conference of the Overseas YMCA War Secretaries. A young soldier placed a copy of the November Ladies Home Journal on the desk where she sat. Moina noticed one of the pages was dog-eared. When she opened it, she found Colonel John McCrae’s poem, “We Shall Not Sleep.”

She had read this poem before, but this time the last stanza stood out to her:

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Moina resolved that she would hold the torch high and she would wear a poppy to remind her of her commitment.

When the men came out of the conference, Moina told them what she was going to do and they told her they would be willing to accept the same challenge and wear a poppy to remind them of their commitment.

Every Memorial Day in May, Veterans distribute poppies to raise awareness for needs of Veterans and their families who have sacrificed for the freedoms cherished by this nation. Remember to vote on Election Day, Nov. 6. Observe Veterans Day on Nov. 11.

She went out at lunch and bought poppies for the men to wear and when they tried to pay her, she said the money would be used to start a fund for needy veterans. One hundred years later and the poem she read is now called “In Flanders Field.” And millions of poppies have been distributed and millions of dollars have been collected to help needy veterans. This was accomplished because one person was determined to not break faith with those who died.

This month we can pick up the torch by promising to be an informed voter by Election Day on Tues. Nov. 6.
Find out where the candidates stand on important issues. Immigration … closed borders or sanctuary cities or something in between? Education … funded by real estate taxes or funded at the state level or something in between?

Every issue has its extremes and it is important to know where each candidate stands. And it is very important to exercise our right to vote or we are not preserving all the values that soldiers fought and died for at Flanders Field. We will have dropped the torch.

Editor’s Note / PN urges voters to get to know all the candidates before heading to the polls early or on General Election Day, Nov. 6, 2018. Hopeful candidates on the ballot running to serve Naperville in DuPage and Will counties, Springfield and Washington, D.C. are featured on PN’s Voter’s Guide.