Yellow ribbon

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Yellow ribbon.svg

The yellow ribbon is used for various symbolic purposes. It is often worn on one's person or tied around a tree.

History and Etymology[edit]

Early Puritan history[edit]

The song/poem "She wore a yellow ribbon" has appeared in various forms for at least four centuries. It is based upon the same general theme: A woman of destiny is under some sort of test or trial as she waits for her beloved to return. Will she be true to him? This seems to be the lingering question and the basis for a great unfolding drama.

The song appears to have been brought to America from Europe by English settlers. The origin of the yellow ribbons seems likely to have come from out of the Puritan heritage. It was during the English Civil War that the Puritan Army of English Parliament wore yellow ribbons and yellow sashes onto the battlefield.

"She Wore a Yellow Ribbon"[edit]

Yellow Ribbon Ceremony rededication ceremony to commemorate the 3rd Infantry Division's fourth deployment since September 11, 2001, at Victory Park in Hinesville

Yellow is the official color of the armor branch of the U.S. Army, used in insignia, etc., and depicted in Hollywood movies by the yellow neckerchief adorning latter-half 19th century, horse-mounted U.S. Cavalry soldiers. However, a review of the U.S. War Department's Regulations for the Uniform and Dress of the Army of the United States (1872, 1898) reveals that a neckerchief, of any color, was not an item required by dress code. Despite this, neckerchiefs were a popular accessory employed by cavalrymen to cope with the frequently dusty environs. The specific association of the yellow neckerchief with the U.S. Cavalry may have arisen from a work of popular American West artist Frederic RemingtonLieutenant Powhatan H. Clarke, Tenth Cavalry (1888).

In the United States military, the symbol of the yellow ribbon is used in a popular marching song. The first version copyrighted was the 1917 version by George A. Norton, which he titled 'Round Her Neck She Wears a Yeller Ribbon" (For Her Lover Who Is Far, Far Away). While he tells in the song about the love between Susie Simpkins and her soldier lover Silas Hubbard, his chorus goes:

'Round her neck she wears a yeller ribbon,
She wears it in winter and the summer so they say,
If you ask her "Why the decoration?"
She'll say "It's fur my lover who is fur, fur away.

The lyrics were altered and the song was titled She Wore a Yellow Ribbon by Russ Morgan for the 1949 movie of the same name. This was performed by several popular musicians of the 1940s, including Mitch Miller and The Andrews Sisters. The Tanner Sisters recorded their version in London on December 30, 1949. It was released by EMI on the His Master's Voice label as catalog number B 9873.

The text of the Army version approximates the following, with local variations:

Around her hair she wore a yellow ribbon
She wore it in the springtime
In the merry month of May
And if you ask her why the heck she wore it
She wore it for her soldier who was far far away
Far away, far away
She wore it for her soldier
Who was far, far away
Around the block she pushed a baby carriage
She pushed it in the springtime
In the Merry month of May
And if you ask her why the heck she pushed it
She pushed it for her soldier who was far far away
Far away, far away
She pushed it for her soldier
Who was far, far away
Behind the door her daddy kept a shotgun
He kept it in the springtime
In the merry month of May
And if you ask him why the heck he kept it
He kept it for her soldier who was far far away
Far away, far away
He kept it for her soldier
Who was far, far away
On the grave she laid the pretty flowers
She laid them in the springtime
In the merry month of May
And if you asked her why the heck she laid them
She laid them for her soldier who was far far away
Far away, far away
She laid them for her soldier
Who was far, far away
[1]

Forgiveness[edit]

Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, quotes, in a 1991 speech, prison warden Kenyon J. Scudder from a 1961 Reader's Digest article,[2] to tell a story of a man whose family uses the white ribbon as a sign of forgiveness,[3] and cites the story as the precursor to the tradition of the yellow ribbon for welcome home and forgiveness:

"A friend of his happened to be sitting in a railroad coach next to a young man who was obviously depressed. Finally the young man revealed that he was a paroled convict returning from a distant prison. His imprisonment had brought shame to his family, and they had neither visited him nor written often. He hoped, however, that this was only because they were too poor to travel and too uneducated to write. He hoped, despite the evidence, that they had forgiven him.
"To make it easy for them, however, he had written to them asking that they put up a signal for him when the train passed their little farm on the outskirts of town. If his family had forgiven him, they were to put up a white ribbon in the big apple tree which stood near the tracks. If they didn't want him to return, they were to do nothing, and he would remain on the train as it traveled onward.
"As the train neared his hometown, the suspense became so great that he couldn’t bear to look out of his window. He exclaimed, 'In just five minutes the engineer will sound the whistle indicating our approach to the long bend which opens into the valley I know as home. Will you watch for the apple tree at the side of the track?' His companion said he would; they exchanged places. The minutes seemed like hours, but then there came the shrill sound of the train whistle. The young man asked, 'Can you see the tree? Is there a white ribbon?'
"Came the reply, 'I see the tree. I see not one white ribbon, but many. There is a white ribbon on every branch. Son, someone surely does love you.'"

"Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree"[edit]

The symbol became widely known in civilian life in the 1970s. It was the central theme of the popular song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree", Written by Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown and recorded by Tony Orlando and Dawn (among many others), as the sign a released convict requested from his wife or lover to indicate that she would welcome him home. He would be able to see it from the bus driving by their house, and would stay on the bus in the absence of the ribbon. He turned out to be very welcome: there were a hundred yellow ribbons.

From the Library of Congress:

In October 1971, newspaper columnist Pete Hamill wrote a piece for the New York Post called "Going Home." In it, college students on a bus trip to the beaches of Fort Lauderdale make friends with an ex-convict who is watching for a yellow handkerchief on a roadside oak. Hamill claimed to have heard this story in oral tradition.
In June 1972, nine months later, Reader's Digest reprinted "Going Home." Also in June 1972, ABC-TV aired a dramatized version of it in which James Earl Jones played the role of the returning ex-con. A month-and-a-half after that, Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown registered for copyright a song they called "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree." The authors said they heard the story while serving in the military. Pete Hamill was not convinced and filed suit for infringement.
One factor that may have influenced Hamill's decision to do so was that, in May 1973, "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" sold 3 million records in three weeks. When the dust settled, BMI calculated that radio stations had played it 3 million times—that's seventeen continuous years of airplay. Hamill dropped his suit after folklorists working for Levine and Brown turned up archival versions of the story that had been collected before "Going Home" had been written. [4]

Usage in various countries[edit]

Australia[edit]

In Australia, the Save Albert Park group have utilized the yellow ribbon as a symbol of protest. The group is a coalition protesting the reclamation of public space in Albert Park, Melbourne for the annual Australian Grand Prix. When the race moved to Melbourne in 1996, yellow ribbons were tied around the trees in the park which were designated for removal. Although the group were unsuccessful in protecting the designated trees, they and their supporters still tie ribbons around the trees each year at the time of the race.

In 2009, the yellow ribbon was used during the appeal for those affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires.

Danish yellow ribbon

Denmark and Sweden[edit]

In Denmark the yellow ribbon has become the more or less official (though not directly officially endorsed by the countries' armed forces) symbol for support of troops in missions. In Sweden, Fredsbaskrarna [2] and Stiftelsen Jesper Lindbloms Minne [3] is promoting it as a troop-supporting symbol.

Estonia[edit]

In Estonia the yellow ribbon was taken into use on 13 May 2011 after the President of Estonia, Mr Toomas Hendrik Ilves made the following announcement on Facebook: "The families of the seven Estonian citizens taken hostage in Lebanon need all of our support. Not intrusive nosiness but rather quiet and committed support that says: your concern is our concern, we hope and believe together with you. Today, to show this, I put a yellow ribbon on my lapel."[5] The seven Estonian citizens referred to by the President, were taken hostage on 23 March 2011 in eastern Lebanon during a cycling trip.[6] On 14 July 2011 it was announced that the hostages had been freed.[7] The yellow ribbon was worn in person, but also virtually on Facebook. For that, a specialised Facebook App was created for people to automatically be able to add a yellow ribbon to their profile pictures.[8] As of 14 July 2011, 12,671 people had added the yellow ribbon to their profile picture.

Kuwait[edit]

In Kuwait the yellow ribbon is worn to support the prisoners of war (POWs) missing from Kuwait, during the period from the Iraqi invasion in 1990 until the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003. The fall of Baghdad marked the end of the era of Saddam Hussein; afterwards, some Kuwaiti graves were found. In a speech by U.S. Ambassador James Larauca in Kuwait on the Fourth of July, the 224th anniversary of Independence Day, the ambassador pointed out that one of the most priceless reminders of the values of freedom is the yellow ribbon that was held by former U.S. President George W. Bush in reference to the suffering of the families of prisoners of Kuwait in Iraqi prisons. [9]

Germany[edit]

In Germany, the yellow ribbon is worn to show support for troops of the Bundeswehr on duty abroad.[10]

Indonesia[edit]

In Indonesia, yellow ribbon is used as a symbol to show solidarity and sympathy for the victims of the riots and chaos in Indonesia May 13–15, 1998, who were mostly Indonesian Chinese.[11][12]

Israel[edit]

Starting in August 2008 in the northern Israeli province of The Galil, yellow ribbons were tied to the left side mirrors of civilian cars as a symbol of the hope of the Israelis to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was imprisoned in the Gaza Strip by Hamas. Shalit was born and raised in the small village of Mizpe Hilla in the upper Galil. He has since been released and returned to Israel.

Italy[edit]

In Italy the yellow ribbon is worn to support the prisoners of war (POWs). Its has been used to support the two Italian marines during the diplomatic crisis between Italy and India.

Japan[edit]

Japan's Medal of Honor uses a yellow ribbon to acknowledge professionals who have become public role models.

Malaysia[edit]

In Malaysia, the yellow ribbon is used as a symbol of "Press Freedom".

New Zealand[edit]

In New Zealand, yellow ribbons are used for suicide awareness. New Zealand has one of the highest rates of youth suicide in the world. It is also being used as a symbol of solidarity and remembrance for the Pike River miners trapped and killed after the explosion in the mine on 19 November 2010.

Philippines[edit]

In the Philippines, the yellow ribbon first gained prominence in the 1980s during the Martial Law era as a symbol of opposition leader Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. Inspired by the song Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree, supporters tied yellow ribbons along the streets of Metro Manila to welcome him from his self-exile in the United States. Aquino never saw the ribbons as he was assassinated while disembarking at the Manila International Airport on August 21, 1983. His death led to a series of events that culminated in the 1986 People Power Revolution that overthrew President Ferdinand Marcos. The color yellow was symbolic of the anti-Marcos movement, and eventually became associated with the new President, Aquino's widow Corazón.

The yellow ribbon regained popularity in 2009 as a show of support for an ailing Corazón Aquino. After her death on 1 August 2009, people wore yellow shirts, tied yellow ribbons along the street and added yellow ribbons on photos in social networking sites in mourning. Soon after, it was used by those pushing for Aquino's only son, Benigno Aquino III, to run in the May 2010 elections; it was eventually co-opted by his campaign.

In September 2010, wearing a yellow ribbon of electrical tape around the index finger signified support of the "We Are One Filipino Movement", a Filipino-American rally for Benigno Aquino III at the Plaza de César Chavez in San Jose, California.

Singapore[edit]

In Singapore, the government has initiated an annual Yellow Ribbon Campaign, through the Yellow Ribbon Project, to promote giving ex-convicts a second chance in society. Typically, a person shows his support for ex-convicts by pinning a yellow ribbon on his shirt during the annual campaign held in September. This was probably influenced by its use as a symbol of acceptance in the song "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree" as stated above.

United States[edit]

Yellow ribbon flown in 1979 by Penne Laingen when her husband, US diplomat Bruce was held captive during the Iran hostage crisis; among the first of the modern "yellow ribbons."

During the Iran hostage crisis, the yellow ribbon was used a symbol of support for the hostages held at the United States embassy in Tehran. In November 1979, a committee headed by Suzan E. Garrett of the Jaycees ladies service organization in Leitchfield, Kentucky organized a campaign to "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" around public trees as well as encouraging people to wear tied ribbons on lapels in support of the U.S. hostages being held in Iran. She was interviewed on ABC-TV by Ted Koppel on the newly created Nightline late-night news program and later by Peter Jennings for ABC's World News Tonight.

This symbolism continued and gained further notoriety in December 1979, when Penelope Laingen, wife of Bruce Laingen who was the most senior foreign service officer being held hostage, tied a yellow ribbon around a tree on the lawn of her Maryland home. The ribbon primarily symbolized the resolve of the American people to win the hostages' safe release. Yellow ribbons featured prominently in the celebrations of their return home in January 1981.

The yellow ribbon saw renewed popularity in the United States during the Gulf War in the early 1990s. It appeared along with the slogan "support our troops", in the form of yellow ribbons tied to trees, and countless other contexts. It often had the implied meaning of "bring our troops home" from the Desert Shield and Desert Storm troop deployments. It appeared again during the 2003 invasion of Iraq with similar meanings, most prominently in the form of a yellow ribbon printed on magnetized material and displayed on the outside of automobiles.

The yellow ribbon is also an emblem for suicide awareness. "The Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program" is a community based program primarily developed to address youth/teen/young adult suicides (ages 10–25) through public awareness campaigns, education and training and by helping communities build capacity." The program began in September 1994 after the suicide of 17 year old Mike Emme.

Additionally, the yellow ribbon is the emblem color for endometriosis. Yellow ribbons are common for endometriosis sufferers/supporters and is a common color for fundraising products.

Trivia[edit]

The yellow ribbon is also the scholastic symbol of a new future and thus is also used on either graduation degree or a graduation robe.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON - Lyrics - International Lyrics Playground". Lyricsplayground.com. 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  2. ^ John Kord Lagemann, The Reader’s Digest, March 1961, pp. 41–42
  3. ^ Thomas S. Monson, "Never Alone", Ensign, May 1991.
  4. ^ "How the Yellow Ribbon Became a National Folk Symbol (The American Folklife Center, Library of Congress)". Loc.gov. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  5. ^ "Kollane lint". Facebook.com. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  6. ^ "7 Estonian Tourists Kidnapped in Lebanon | News | ERR". News. 2011-03-23. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  7. ^ "Foreign Ministry announcement | Välisministeerium". Vm.ee. 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ "كونا :: كلمة السفير الامريكي لدى الكويت في ذكرى عيد الاستقلال الامريكي ال224 01/07/2000". Kuna.net.kw. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  10. ^ gelbe-schleife.de
  11. ^ "Yellow Ribbon Campaign: Please Join Us". Cc.gatech.edu. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  12. ^ Rosenthal, Elisabeth (August 18, 1998). "Beijing Students and Women, Defying Ban, Protest Anti-Chinese Violence in Indonesia". The New York Times. 
  13. ^ "The History of the YELLOW RIBBON". Endtimepilgrim.org. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 

External links[edit]