The Royal British Legion is urging the public to put down their smartphones and take part in the traditional two-minute silence on the 100th Armistice Day. The charity, which runs the annual poppy appeal, is hoping to encourage younger generations to take part in remembrance ceremonies by launching a Snapchat filter and Twitter emoji. Organisers are calling on people to “mute your phone, close the laptop, pause your coffee, switch off the telly” as part of the Pause to Remember campaign.
The charity is launching a series of digital campaigns on the popular social media sites in a bid to get younger people to engage in the two-minute silence on November 11. In one video, playwright Eno Mfon, 21, reads from a poem about the national event, saying: “It can be awkward, just standing there, but try closing your eyes. Remember those who risked their lives.” The Royal British Legion has also tried to move away from accusations that the organisation is political. In the same video, Ms Mfon says: “You don’t have to agree with the politicians, you don’t have to like their decisions.” She adds: “This is more than some war in your history textbook.”
Last year, the left-wing writer Aaron Bastani caused a backlash after he said the UK should “close down the RoyalBritish Legion”. In one video, Bastani told his viewers: “The poppy appeal is grotesque, I think it has a kind of triumphalist militarism… it’s just like racist, right? It’s white supremacist.”
The new campaign is part of a specific drive to engage young people in the memorial events. Catherine Davies, head of remembrance at the Royal British Legion, said: “The two-minute silence unites us all and is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago. “Through our social channels we are reaching out to the general public, but we especially hope young people will get involved, as in order to uphold the memories of those who have gone before it’s vital we pass on the torch of remembrance to the new generations.”
The Twitter poppy emoji will appear when users tweet hashtags such as #TwoMinuteSilence #LestWeForget and #SaluteOurForces. The first two-minute silence took place on November 11, 1919. Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, a South African politician and author, suggested that the silence should be observed on Armistice Day in memory of the dead. King George V asked the public to reflect for “a brief space of two minutes”. The Royal British Legion is the nation’s biggest armed forces charity, providing care and support to personnel and their families as well as managing the annual poppy appeal.