Ever since World War I, the bleuet (cornflower or bachelor’s button in English) has been a French symbol of remembrance. Like the Commonwealth poppy, the bleuet is a hardy flower that flourished in Europe’s devastated battlefields. Its color is reminiscent of the blue uniform worn by young French recruits. Wounded veterans began crafting them out of fabric or paper and selling them as early as 1925. The bleuets are traditionally worn on November 11th and May 8th — the days that mark the end of World War I and World War II.
The bleuet is a small blue flower that has a huge impact on France—and on the HEC Paris community. For the second consecutive year, students and administrators throughout campus have supported sales of the tiny blossom, which raises money to aid wounded veterans and victims of terrorist attacks in France.
HEC Paris’ 2020 fundraising effort, launched for November 11’s Remembrance Day, was more creative than usual because of COVID-19. The first phase, spearheaded by MBA students Erwin Bruder and David Rocher, involved online content about remembrance as well as sales of masks and paper versions of the flower.
Next came a “turkey trot,” a run traditionally held on Thanksgiving morning in the United States. The virtual 5km race, co-hosted by Andrea Gholam, Daniel Rellaford and Matthieu Paquet of the MBA’s Sports and Wellness Club, as well as the HEC Sports Department, was advertised to the entire HEC community. It came with the following challenge: if 200 runners participated, either on campus or virtually, and posted their results, then HEC Paris would donate €1,000 to charity.
In total, the HEC community raised €1,000 for the Bleuets de France (with €700 coming from direct sales of the paper flowers and masks), and an additional €300 each for les Restos du Coeur and Hopitaux de France.
Donations can still be made to each of the charities at: