Introducing the digital poppy

October 24, 2018 by Legion Magazine

Governor General Julie Payette at the presentation of the first poppy ceremony, flanked by the grand president of the Royal Canadian Legion, Vice-Admiral (Ret’d) Larry Murray, and Dominion President Tom Irvine.
Stephen J. Thorne
The Royal Canadian Legion launched its annual poppy campaign on Oct. 22 in Ottawa, where Dominion President Tom Irvine and Grand President Larry Murray, presented Governor General Julie Payette with the symbolic first poppy.

Payette—whose duties include ceremonial head of the Canadian Armed Forces—acknowledged the sacrifices of the fallen and of those who survive and still serve.

“It is a privilege to wear a poppy and to honour those who have fallen and given the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” she said, citing the added significance of this year’s 100th anniversary of the Armistice, which effectively ended the First World War.

Governor General Julie Payette talks with a guest at the presentation of the first poppy ceremony on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018.
Stephen J. Thorne
“To all the veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces who are in this room and also to those who are serving Canada across the country and abroad,” she added, “you have stood and you still stand on guard for our country and for our freedom.

“And for this, we thank you.”

The poppy was officially adopted as a symbol of remembrance in 1921 by the Legion’s predecessor, the Great War Veterans Association in Canada. Each year, the Legion distributes some 20 million poppies, raising about $20 million in donations annually for veterans’ services and programs.

This year, the Legion is also introducing the Digital Poppy, which will be available for use with donations until midnight on Nov. 11.

“The digital poppy is designed to reach audiences, particularly the younger ones, who use technology to communicate,” said Danny Martin, secretary of the Dominion Command Poppy and Remembrance Committee.

Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or other social media, the digital poppy will appear on subscribers’ posts in a signature block. Users can add personal dedications to the digital poppy, as well.

Celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Margaret Atwood and Don Cherry have joined in promoting the digital poppy campaign.

“It should be interesting,” Martin said in an interview. “It’s across Canada, across the world. We’re really excited to see the success. It has huge potential.”

(Click photo to enlarge) Governor General Julie Payette (left) and Tom Irvine, dominion president of the Royal Canadian Legion, with cadets at the launch of the Legion’s first electronic poppy campaign, Monday, Oct. 22, 2018.
Stephen J. Thorne
Addressing about 50 attendees to the ceremony, Irvine quoted John McCrae’s famous 1915 poem, “In Flanders Fields,” in which the front-line doctor wrote: “If ye break faith with us who die, We shall not sleep, though poppies grow.”

Said Irvine: “Veterans and our fallen heroes alike will take comfort in our efforts and those of all Canadians to remember and not to fear that their sacrifices will have been in vain. This remembrance, as symbolized by the poppy, remains our eternal recognition of the service of all the women and men who protect our freedoms.”

On Oct. 26, digital poppies will be available at

  • pwlg

    Not all wars have been about protecting our freedoms…in 1914 40% of men and all of women did not have the right to vote in the United Kingdom and in Canada many immigrants and indigenous peoples and women did not have the right to vote. Most of the indigenous peoples that the great empires of the day subjugated in SE Asia, India, Africa and even in North America were murdered, put in concentration camps, starved, diseased and disenfranchised in their own lands.

    Prior to 1914 and well after WW1 tens of millions were killed in these “colonies” either by deliberate starvation or murdered by their occupiers France, the UK, Russia, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Portugese, Spain and other countries we deemed to be “free” during WW1.

    In Canada, we have been reminded again through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of our nation’s collective brutality against the indigenous peoples prior to 1914 and for most of the 20th Century.

    Let us remember the 66,000 who never came home to Canada from the industrial slaughter of WW1 so we never go to war for rulers who have other purposes in mind and not the protection of citizens nor freedom. As Wilfred Owen wrote in his poem, “…but (the old man) slew his son, and half the seed of Europe, one by one.”

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