Remembrance Project – Day 5: The Bleuet

asteraceae beautiful bloom blooming
Photo by Pixabay on

The poppy has become the commonwealth symbol for remembrance because of John McRae’s poem. At some point in grade school, you have to memorize it to recite at Remembrance ceremonies in your school gym. Eventually, you might learn a little more about it, beyond the singsong recital of the words, he wrote it for his friend who died; he wrote it because the poppies were pervasive in the fields around Essex Farm where he had his field hospital. Many assume that the poppy is a global symbol.

It’s not.

In France, the cornflower (the bleuet) is the national symbol of the Remembrance. In the theatre of war, the bleuet continued to grow in the fields scarred and burned by the war effort. The blue of the flowers was the only sign of life on some battlefields.  The original bleuet pins were made by soldiers wounded in the war who needed something to occupy their minds as they were healing. Two nurses, Suzanne Lenhard (herself a war widow) and Charlotte Malleterre (the daughter of the head of the Hotel des Invalides) organized workshops for the soldiers to make bleuet badges, originally from fabric, and later from tissue paper. The soldiers could then sell the pins to earn a small wage, which helped with their mental health as well as giving themselves convalescent time to heal from physical wounds. In 1935 on Remembrance Day, the bleuet was officially recognized by the French government.

May the many symbols of remembrance, both widely recognized and personal, be displayed with respect and reverence.

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