IF YOU see anyone wearing a cornflower in their lapel today, that is because the bleuet, it is the French answer to the remembrance poppy.
This year, campaigners say the bleuet has seen unprecedented success – since the 2014 flower was launched on November 2, official body Bleuet de France has already sold 250,000 of 300,000 it had made.
Last year sales of flowers raised €1,120,000 – one of the best ever results, though not comparable to the €50million or so raised by the British Legion’s poppies; hence campaigners have been urging the French to support the campaign in this symbolic year which marks 100 years since the start of the First World War.
Typically the bleuet can be spotted on lapels of servicepeople and politicians at remembrance events, but is not usually as widely worn by French people as poppies are in the UK.
This year’s paper bleuets, which resemble the British poppies in their design, are being made in France (rather than in China previously) by 350 workers training in ESTAT centres, which are designed to give work opportunities to the disabled. This is a symbolic link to the start of the bleuet campaign in the 1920s when the first bleuets were made by injured veterans.
This year’s bleuet has also been redesigned to mark 80 years since Bleuet de France was officially approved as a charity for the sale of the flowers.
The bleuet campaign is run on behalf of the Office National des Anciens Combattants et Victimes de Guerre and supports families of servicepeople or police officers who died or were injured in service, as well as victims of terrorism.
Most of its income usually comes from collections on November 11, which as of 2012 is a day of remembrance not only for the end of the First World War, but for all of those who have died for France.
Read more about how the bleuet evolved in the current edition of The Connexion.