November 1, 2015
Remembrance Day is a special day in Canada, as we take a moment of silence at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, to commemorate the very moment that World War One ended. Before showing Bell’s new TV ad, here’s a little history about Remembrance Day in Canada:
Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth of Nations member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Remembrance Day is observed on the 11th of November to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918, as hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”. Every Canadian kid learns about “In Flanders Fields”, which is a war poem, written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (November 30, 1872 – January 28, 1918) who was a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I, and a surgeon during the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium. He was inspired to write “In Flanders Fields” on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres. According to legend, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae, initially dissatisfied with his work, discarded it. “In Flanders Fields” was first published on December 8 of that year in the London-based magazine Punch. The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem In Flanders Fields. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red colour became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war. McCrae died of pneumonia months before the end of the war, while still working at a hospital for Canadian soldiers in Belgium.
Here is the Remembrance Day poem:
I set that up because this new Bell ad tells a beautiful story from the eyes of a little girl, as she learns about Remembrance Day and does something very touching for a veteran. It’s a very Canadian storyline and I hope you can appreciate every little subtlety in this ad. There are no words and you have to pay close attention to every detail. In the ad, a little girl peers out a school bus window and sees a veteran selling poppies by the side of the road. It prompts her to google “what is a poppy”, which starts her on the learning process about Remembrance Day. The little girl emails someone in Belgium, asking if they are near Flanders Field, a link to the poem above. Then a letter arrives, presumably from the person in Belgium. The little girl takes the letter to the veteran, giving it to him in a very touching tribute and a beautiful moment.
In Canada, most people will wear a poppy in early November as a tribute to our veterans. Everyone knows the poem, as we learn it in school, with most schools holding a Remembrance Day ceremony, with veterans in attendance. This ad is a beautiful tribute to Remembrance Day in Canada and a reminder: Lest we forget. Here’s the ad:
Bell Canada has a long history of paying tribute to our veterans. Below is an ad from the mid 90s, when we were still excited that we could call from anywhere. In the ad, a young 20-year-old visiting Dieppe phones home to Canada to talk to his grandfather, just to say “thank you”. Dieppe holds a special place for Canadians. Two years before D-Day, 6,000 Canadians tried to land on the beach at Dieppe, but less than half survived. We see many tributes to the soldiers, but this one sends a chill through me every time I watch.
Wear a poppy. Lest we forget.