EDITORIAL Going digital on 11th hour of 11th day
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.
A tablet displays a digital poppy.