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Apr 22, 2009

The Origin of the Peace Symbol

Under the heading of You Learn Something New Every Day, I just learned what the peace symbol stands for.

And no, I don’t mean that I just found out that the peace symbol stands for peace.

According to designboom.com the peace sign was designed for the British campaign for nuclear disarmament. Members of anti-nuke group wanted to make badges to wear to their first protest.

The peace symbol shape was borrowed from the naval code of semaphore and the code letters “N” and “D” for “nuclear disarmament.” The letter N is two flags, arms down-stretched at a 45-degree angle. The letter D is two flags, one arm straight up and one down.

The peace symbol and I are sisters, in a way, since we both were born in 1958. Also born that year? Alec Baldwin, Ellen Degeneres and Kevin Bacon. We should have a party!

Since I turned 50 last year, I’m wondering if that explains the sudden resurgence of popularity of the peace sign. From earrings and purses to curtain and license plates, peace signs are found in almost every retail store in the United States. If only tinted granny glasses could have the same rebirth . . .

Back to the history lesson: The peace symbol began popping up in the U.S. in civil rights marches led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Not surprisingly, the killjoys of the world tried to turn it into something to gripe about. Fundamentalists tried to show that the peace symbol was linked to communism, was a satanic sign, and was actually a drawing of St. Peter being crucified upside down. The South African apartheid regime tried to ban the symbol. Supporters of American soldiers in Viet Nam called the peace symbol “the footprint of the great American chicken” and mocked its use by anti-war protesters.

Few symbols are as widely known and loved. The symbol was deliberately never copyrighted and can be used freely for any purpose. Despite the possibility of exploitation, the free use of the peace symbol is fitting as a symbol of freedom.

53 comments:

  1. I don't know I'm seeing more and more tinted granny glasses. lol Loved the history lesson. keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't even want to see tinted granny glasses!!!

      Delete
  2. I don't the N & D explanation. If the 45 degree lines were inspired by the Naval N flag signal, then those 45 degree lines would be positioned higher up in the circle, as in the shoulder height of the signalman. Read about the Nero Cross.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ya!! I didn't know about earrings and purses and curtain and license plates and even the tinted granny glasses!!!

      Delete
  3. Oh yeah, another thing, they couldn't copyright it since it had already been widely used previously for the purposes you mentioned.

    ReplyDelete
  4. why is the peice symbol popular among young people

    ReplyDelete
  5. PLZ ANSWER MY QUESTION!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey, 45 degrees plus 45 degrees equals 90 degrees. Artist's perogative--the designer blended the N symbol with the D symbol. But hey, keep thinking like a mechanical robot and run off the cliff like a lemming.... As far as this Nero Cross conspiracy, I call BS.

    ALSO, use your brain. WHY would the creator of the nuclear disarmament symbol S E C R E T L Y (shhhhh) be drawing on what, to another culture, was an anti-Christian symbol? What purpose would the creator of this symbol possibly have had to consciously and purposely drawn from the symbol's previous use as a Nazi anti-Christian symbol?
    Nothing can take away from the fact that, DESPITE any other PREVIOUS culture's use of this symbol, the INTENTION was to symbolize NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT and later peace. Get off your NERO Cross conspiracy high horse. Also....do a little research on the symbolism of the CROSS--PRE JESUS CHRIST era....

    Sarah

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am shocked at the dark side of the history of the beloved Peace sign!! Why do people think the bird print is a crow?? Why not a Dove?? This symbol means Peace to me..nothing Satanic, nothing sinister.. as a Christian I am horrified some Christian's may believe this.. by the way Saint Peter WAS crucified upside down which happened often in Roman times.. look that up as well. Peace OUT!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Brooklyn says

    Peace sign are the bom to me i love them even i can marry it thats are much i love them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  9. The "so-called" peace sign emblem was really a Nero Cross used by a Christian hating Roman emporer. Is and has been in exisistance for a long time and was known as the symbol for the death of man. PEACE??? Well, most so called experts don't want anybody to dig too deep into their "currently" pet therory for fear they will be shown up wrong. As happened many time in history, like some scientists that were persecuted and killed by the religious community as heretics because they postulaed that we weren't the center of the universe. So before you dig your own hole too deep do some reading.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Well Anonymous, you need to do some more reading on your own, and you need to expand your horizons. The "so called experts" you cite but neglect to name are neither. Your negative take on reality is based on falsehoods and partial truths. I pass PEACE to you, in whatever format you choose. Wear a Peace Sign in honor of Dick Cheyney.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The so called "peace symbol" is anything but peace. It dates back to early Christianity. It is the symbol of a broken cross. When the Apostle Peter tried to talk Jesus Christ out of going to the cross, Jesus' response was "Get behind Me, Satan. In other words Satan was using Peter to attempt to get Jesus from going to the cross, which was what Scripture says God sent Him to do in giving Himself as a "ransom for many" It began with Satanic roots but during WWII did emerge as a symbol for victory and in some places peace. The peace movement of the 60's borrowed it too. Anyone can argue the point and deny what I have said, but if so, remember, God's books are not closed yet!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh for God's sake. It is what it is. Don't try to add your own interpretations to add unneeded drama. I think the people who designed it know what they based it on and if they say it was the disarmament symbol then it was the disarmament symbol. I'm surprised such a negative person is on this site to begin with. Are you trying to find things to contradict? (My mother would say to you, "You don't WANT to be happy, do you?") The peace sign is not an anti-Christian symbol. You can make whatever claims you want, but please take them someplace else.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great blog!
    I have a neighbor who sees my peace sign and says it's a "turkey foot" and calls me a communist and never fails to tell me once again that we need guns and we don't need any laws bc people will do the right thing without laws. Then why do we need guns I ask? For the bad people he says. Oh, but the one law we do need is against gay marriage. Everything else just trust the good people to do good, and take that damn turkey foot off your neck.

    Peace Rocks. Thanks for this post.

    ReplyDelete
  14. symbols have always been borrowed because of the lack of creativity in the world. this symbol has been in exixstance way before 1958, but meant something else. if someone is uncreative and borrows a symbol and uses it for some other meaning or purpose who cares. just remember it is always better to think up something new so that there is not any contreversy of what it really means. Peace is preferable, but sometimes war is needed to create larger blocks of peace because we all know that man is inheritly evil and wicked.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Oh, please. The whole peace sign "movement" and sudden recent popularity in apparel, jewelry and decor is just a fad, and an unoriginal one at that. Our culture/society just repeats one trend after the other- there is no such thing as truly unique style anymore. And most people don't understand really what symbol they're wearing anyway. Ask a 7-year-old! I see little kids wearing shoes and clothing or carrying toys and stuffed animals adorned with the peace symbol, and most of those kids don't even know what it means (or is purported to mean). To them, it's just something "cool" or "in style"- they're merely copying their friends.

    And to top it off, to further show how unimaginative people are, the liberal explanation of the origin of the peace symbol is given along with the caveat that it "might" have originated from other, earlier, sources, which would, much to the chagrin of the aforementioned liberals I'm sure, actually support the likelihood of the Christian, conservative view. It just proves that if you repeat something enough, true or not, it will become truth. Few people bother even checking the facts anymore- they're too busy.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I chose to wear my peace sign jewelry as that, a symbol of peace. I never ever heard in all of my 51 years that it was a broken cross until my daughter drew a picture for her friend that had peace signsd on it. The little girl told her they were broken crosses. These are 6 year old girls! Mind you the little girl is our pastor's daughter, but still I had never heard this. I don't like the implication that some might think I am not a Christian because I wear my jewelry, but I will continue to wear it as I like what it represents to me which is peace!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I wore a peace symbol in Vietnam in 69 a Captain stop me and said what is that around your neck solider. I told him a peace sign and he said why is there a piece missing from it and I told him because the peace is missing here. He was confused today the peace is still missing,war is hell . Still looking for the peace I lost a long time ago.

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  19. You say, "Fundamentalists tried to show that the peace symbol was linked to communism, was a satanic sign, and was actually a drawing of St. Peter being crucified upside down." For an account of how these rumours were created by the John Birch Society, see my blog "On The Trail of the Witch's Foot", http://passionatesceptic.blogspot.co.uk

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  20. This really helped me do my report on the peace symbol!!! Thank you!!

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