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March 04, 2010

What's with yellow ribbons?

I want to know!

When yellow ribbons started appearing everywhere in 2002 or so, I remember discussing with my mother how perplexed we were. I mean, we got that they were intended to support the troops, of course, but WHY? Doesn't yellow mean cowardice? I never really remembered to look it up, but my friend Adam has been tweeting about this story about a town in CT struggling over whether to allow ribbons on the Green. (It looks like they are now allowing them. I don't know the whole story here, but I personally think that citizens should get town permission for ANYTHING they're putting on town property. What it is doesn't really matter.) ANYWAY. I asked Adam if he knew where the yellow ribbon thing came from in the first place, and he found this article. It's an interesting read. It sounds like people THINK this is a Civil War tradition, but it probably isn't, and it actually has a pretty complicated history. There's a reference in a 1959 book on prison reform, but it's a white ribbon and it has to do with an ex-con coming home, so that's far from a clear-cut reference. The song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" was not copyrighted until 1972, but there's a song from the forties called "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" that IS associated with soldiers being away. The symbol was popularized during the Iran hostage crisis, but doesn't seem to be affiliated with the "Support the troops" slogan until 1991. At which point, of course, people started claiming it was an old tradition. Fascinating.

Posted by Kat at March 4, 2010 05:00 PM
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