ED­I­TO­RIAL Go­ing dig­i­tal on 11th hour of 11th day

Winnipeg Free Press - - OUR VIEW / YOUR SAY -

HIS Re­mem­brance Day, pop­pies aren’t just adorn­ing lapels. They’re also adorn­ing so­cial me­dia feeds.

As 2018 marks the 100th an­niver­sary of the ar­mistice that ended the First World War, it seems fit­ting that the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion would launch Poppy 2.0. For the first time, those wish­ing to show their re­spect can go to my­poppy.ca, make a mone­tary con­tri­bu­tion to the Poppy Fund and re­ceive an of­fi­cial dig­i­tal poppy that can then be posted to their In­sta­gram, Twit­ter and Face­book feeds. Peo­ple are also able to per­son­al­ize and ded­i­cate their poppy to a vet­eran.

Per­haps most sig­nif­i­cantly, the ad­vent of the dig­i­tal poppy ush­ers in a new era in which do­na­tions to the Poppy Fund can, for the first time, be made on­line, which means folks no longer have to worry about hav­ing cash for the poppy box. Whether this trans­lates into in­creased do­na­tions to the fund re­mains to be seen, but with the dig­i­tal poppy, the Le­gion has made sup­port­ing the fund — which is used to sup­port Cana­dian

Tvet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies — even eas­ier. The prospect of a dig­i­tal poppy also makes sense in an era in which much of our lives are lived on­line. The poppy, the poignant sym­bol of re­mem­brance thanks to Lt-Col. John McCrae’s fa­mous poem In Flan­ders Fields, is meant to be vis­i­ble, and we spend a lot of time look­ing down at our phones.

Wear­ing a poppy is a show of rev­er­ence and re­spect, whether it’s on your parka or in your pro­file pic­ture. But it’s worth re­mem­ber­ing that the dig­i­tal pop­pies are meant to com­ple­ment, not re­place, the lapel pop­pies — which them­selves are meant to com­ple­ment, not re­place, the act of ob­serv­ing Re­mem­brance Day.

And this Re­mem­brance Day, es­pe­cially, is mo­men­tous. It’s been a full cen­tury since the guns fell silent at the end of a war that was sup­posed to end all wars. As time marches on and Nov. 11, 1918, moves fur­ther back in his­tory, it be­comes even more in­cum­bent on the liv­ing to re­mem­ber, and to hon­our the coura­geous Cana­di­ans who gave up so much. Those who were there in the trenches aren’t here to tell us. Canada’s last known First World War vet­eran, John Bab­cock, died in 2010 at 109.

In our busy lives, it’s easy for Re­mem­brance Day to be­come an­other day off, with the 11th hour of the 11th day rolling by without so much as a pass­ing glance. It’s easy to scroll past row upon row of dig­i­tal pop­pies without paus­ing for a mo­ment to re­flect on the sac­ri­fices made and the blood, sweat and tears shed — in the First World War and the wars that fol­lowed.

There are many op­por­tu­ni­ties to ob­serve Re­mem­brance Day in a way that al­lows one to con­nect with one’s com­mu­nity, from the ser­vice at the RBC Con­ven­tion Cen­tre to the Brook­side Ceme­tery tour and all the events in be­tween. Or one might choose to take a pri­vate mo­ment at home.

The poppy, whether it’s phys­i­cal or dig­i­tal, is meant to be a re­minder. En­gag­ing in the act of re­mem­brance is what gives it mean­ing.

ADRIAN WYLD / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

A tablet dis­plays a dig­i­tal poppy.

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