Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy birthday, dear peace sign!

It started life as the emblem of the British anti-nuclear movement, but it has become an international sign for peace, and arguably the most widely used protest symbol in the world. It had its first public outing 50 years ago on a chilly Good Friday as thousands of British anti-nuclear campaigners set off from London’s Trafalgar Square on a 50-mile march to the weapons factory at Aldermaston.

Gerald Holtom, a designer and former World War II conscientious objector from West London, persuaded the protest organizers that their aims would have greater impact if they were conveyed in a visual image. The Ban the Bomb symbol, now peace sign, was born.

Holtom considered using a Christian cross motif but, instead, decided to use letters from the semaphore -- or flag-signaling -- alphabet, super-imposing N (uclear) on D (isarmament) and placing them within a circle symbolizing Earth. The design was “to mean a human being in despair” with arms outstretched downwards.

Fifty years later, the peace sign is still relevant. Perhaps it should be modified somewhat to reflect not only humanity in despair, but Mother Earth as well.

Info from the BBC.


T.R. said...

Wow, just like me, fifty (not quite) and still ostracized! Who would believe these many years later?

chanpheng said...

Interesting factoid. I always thought it was a vandalized Mercedes symbol.