Sunday, October 5, 2008
Ride on the Peace Train
"Ride on the Peace Train" is a song by Cat Stevens. One I've loved for a long time, anything from the old Cat is good. This weekend at the Salmon Days fair I bought Sofi and Kiah a nice sterling silver peace sign (very small and dainty) necklace. The guy that sold it to us reminded me of something that I had forgotten, that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the peace sign. The peace sign surprisingly started in England. On an Easter Sunday a group of people marched from London to a factory in the countryside where Britain built its atomic bombs. Gerald Holtom was the artist and textile designer who created it. An international brand that became as familiar as a stop sign - from grim and gritty, to groovy, like a universal trademark, according to design consultant Richard Williams.
"The clever thing about it is, it's a mark we can all remember," Williams said. "Because we can all draw it. You have to see it once to be able to draw it and there are very few marks that work that way. That's why it can grow so quickly, why so many people can adopt it, because they can just scribble it. So when people were making placards they didn't get it wrong, they knew what it was." Williams also said "I think it's a good symbol because it is actually quite simple." Simple, as simple as the three lines and a circle, etched on the headstone of Gerald Holtom's grave. The Peace sign was not introduced to the US until the 60's. I guess we were a bit late to jump on the peace train.
Now 50 years later I wonder what Gerald Holtom would think of his symbol and how people perceive others who support the peace sign. Because it seems that if you truly support the peace sign you are branded unpatriotic. A person in the US can have a confederate flag in the back of their truck window and people just look away. Whereas a person with a peace sticker instead of a flag sticker on their car is looked at as less patriotic. Does that make sense? I've lost Uncles in wars. One of my Uncles died after the war due to complications because his parachute didn't open up. I have patriotism in my family. I'm patriotic. I'm also for peace. What I love about the peace sign (sorry I went off there for a second, I'm back again to the peace sign now) is that the symbol has been used for so many things. It's been used as a symbol against tyranny in Greece, against apartheid in South Africa and by the US troops opposing the Vietnam War. Yes, US troops, not just the hippies back home. People always associate it with anti-war protesters but it didn't start out as that. Like I said above it started out as a symbol used by a group of people that didn't want just the British Atomic bombs, they didn't want any Atomic bombs. I know it's not a major anniversary but it's been a pretty big symbol for a long time. A symbol that most everyone recognizes and a symbol that one man started in hopes of stopping something that would destroy people not bring them together. I'm hopping on the Peace train. Anyone want to join me?