Monday, September 20, 2010

Ribbons: The Universal Banner

How It Began

Ribbons have been used in a number of different ways, such as ties, hair bows, decorations, fashion accessories, or craft materials. However, ribbons have also been used for various campaigns and symbolisms worldwide.

The widespread use of symbolic campaign ribbons can be traced back into the early 1990s. The New York Times declared 1992 as “The Year of the Ribbon”, when people started wearing bright red ribbons pinned on their chests to support the fight against AIDS.

“Tie a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree
It's been three long years
Do you still want me?”

Many people are probably familiar with the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” by Tony Orlando. This song was popularized in the 1970s, and some have cited that this was the origin of the Ribbon tradition. However, the display of ribbons dates further back to a folk tale, as told in a book by Pennsylvania jurist Curtis Bok in 1959.

The story was about two men on a railroad train. One of them was a convict, who was released from a five year prison sentence. This convict wrote to the people of his town and asked them to give him a sign of whether or not they wanted him back when he came home. He instructed them to place a white ribbon around the big apple tree by the railroad track if they wanted him, but do nothing if they did not want him back. The convict told them that if he did not see a white ribbon, he would not get off the train and move on to another place to start a new life.

As they neared his hometown, the man asked his companion to look for the white ribbon, as he was too nervous to look himself. After a little while, the convict felt his companion’s hand on his arm, and heard him exclaim, "There it is!" The man cried, "It’s all right! The whole tree is white with ribbons."

During the 1960s, this story appeared in religious publications and was retold by word of mouth. Various versions of the story emerged, and in 1972, Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown copyrighted the lyrics to the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree”. They claimed that the lyrics were derived from a story they heard while serving in the military. The following year, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon”, sang by Tony Orlando, sold 3 million copies.

Tie a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree

It's been three long years

Do you still want me?

If I don't see a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree

I'll stay on the bus

Forget about us

Put the blame on me

If I don't see a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree

In 1975, Gail Magruder tied yellow ribbons around her porch for her husband, Jeb Stuart Magruder. Jeb Stuart was released from jail, and his homecoming was broadcasted live on the evening news. At that moment, the Yellow Ribbon became a symbol of forgiveness.

Iranian revolutionaries seized the US embassy in Tehran and took Ambassador Bruce Laingen and his staff hostage in November 1979. His wife, Penne Laingen, tied a yellow ribbon around a tree in her front yard, and said in an interview for The Washington Post (Barbara Parker, 1979, “Penne Laingen’s Wait”) six weeks after the incident, "So I'm standing and waiting and praying . . . and one of these days Bruce is going to untie that yellow ribbon. It's going to be out there until he does." This same yellow ribbon was then used as a sign of the families’ determination to be reunited again.

The hostage families formed an organization that allied with other humanitarian associations, in order to bring strong moral support to the families of the hostages. They distributed 10,000 yellow ribbons to various unions, schools, TV stations, companies, and politicians.

Thus began the use of ribbons as symbols for campaigns and support organizations.

Ribbons for Awareness Campaigns

Awareness ribbons are short pieces of colored ribbons, folded once to make a loop or single bow. They are used in various countries like the US, Canada, Australia, UK, and many other parts of the world. These ribbons were designed to show a statement of support for various causes or issues.

In 1990, AIDS activists decided to use the ribbons as a way to support people who were fighting the disease. AIDS is represented by the Red Ribbon (because red is the color of passion), and people wear red ribbons to show support for AIDS patients. In the 1991 Tony Awards, Jeremy Irons wore the eye-catching red ribbon on his chest. The red AIDS ribbon became an overnight sensation, and people immediately followed suit.

Meanwhile, in 1996, the Pink Ribbon was launched for breast cancer awareness to support breast cancer patients and survivors, and to raise funds for breast cancer research. A Green Ribbon Campaign was launched by Canada in the same year as a symbol of hope for missing children. White ribbons are symbols for peace, innocence, and life, while dark blue ribbons are worn for child abuse campaigns. A jigsaw puzzle ribbon is used to display autism awareness.

Following the 9-11 attack in 2001, Americans fashioned a commemorative ribbon, known as the “9-11 ribbon” or “loyalty ribbon” to show solidarity and patriotism. The 9-11 Ribbon persisted well into the next year, as people continued to heal and move on with life. These loyalty ribbons are worn each year during commemoration of the 9-11 attacks.

Ribbons of different colors, indeed, have become the universal banner for various causes, health issues, and social concerns. Some become popular worldwide, while others are just locally known. Regardless of whether they are local or worldwide, these causes are just as important as the others.

Cream City Ribbon: Ribbons for a Cause

Cream City Ribbon is a Milwaukee based ribbon manufacturing company that produces natural and biodegradable ribbons. Cream City Ribbon is made from 100% cotton, responsibly grown and dyed in the US. American-made and environment friendly, Cream City Ribbon comes in 29 colors and has a wide variety of patterns and prints. Organic cotton Cream City Ribbon is also available by special order.

Cream City Ribbon supports the Milwaukee Urban Ecology Center, fighting for environmental causes using their natural ribbons that are non-woven.

Give your campaign a more meaningful cause with all-American ribbons.

Use natural ribbons.

Support patriotism with US made ribbons.

Protect the environment with biodegradable ribbons.

Buy Cream City Ribbon.

Cream City Ribbon is also great for crafts, scrapbooking, home decorations, and commercial purposes. For orders, inquiries, and more information, visit

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.