The Bluet de France
Attendees at the dedication of the France-Ireland Memorial in Glasnevin, on 13 November 2016 received the Bleuet de France from staff of the French Embassy. The associated commemorative booklet is a basis for the following information on the Bleuet de France. The Bleuet de France is the French flower of Remembrance. It was created in 1916 by two nurses in the “Institution Nationale des Invalides”, Suzanne Lenhardt and Charlotte Malleterre. Suzanne’s husband was killed in 1915 and Charlottte was the sister of General Gustave Léon Niox and was married to General Gabriel Malleterre.
Facing the necessity to find an activity for the wounded, the two nurses organized small workshops where cornflower badges were made from fabric and paper. These badges were sold to the public which allowed veterans to earn a small income. The badges gradually became a symbol of social and professional reintegration.
The cornflower was chosen as a reference of the name used by the “poilus” to call fresh conscripts arriving in the trenches with their new blue uniform. It is also a symbol of life in the chaos. Despite the horror of the front, cornflowers were still growing on the battlefield during the war and were available in great numbers in Eastern France. The “blue” also refers to the colour of the Nation, first colour of the French Tricolour.
Initially, the production was sold on a small scale in Paris, providing both an occupation and income to former soldiers.
In 1935, President of the Republic Gaston Doumergue declared the Bleuet flower of remembrance to “show the gratitude of the Nation and help these men who sacrificed their youth to defend France” and decided it would be sold annually on 11 November. In 1957, it was decided that the Bleuet would also be sold on 8 May.
In 2012, 11 November became the official day of remembrance not only for the First World War but also for every people who died in service of France, including victims of terrorism.
Along with the Poppy for Commonwealth countries, the Bleuet de France became a symbol of solidarity of the Nation with all these victims.
The Bleuet de France campaign is run on behalf of the Office National des Anciens Combattants et Victimes de Guerre.
Today, the Bleuet de France pursues its traditional mission of moral and financial support for people who died for France, or who were injured in service, and their families.