History of the Awareness Ribbon

The very first meaningful awareness ribbon in history was a yellow ribbon that was tied (no pun intended) to a copyrighted, military sung, marching song in 1917 by George A. Norton. The title of that song was "Round Her Neck She Wears a Yeller Ribbon".

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But it is the early 1970s song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree" that you might be most familiar with. The wife of a hostage, held in Iran, tied yellow ribbons around trees in illustration for her husband to be released and come home. This event was listed as the first time a color ribbon was used, and recognized, as a symbol of awareness.

Throughout the years since, many individuals as well as organizations have used color ribbons to raise awareness of various concerns, health issues, charities, support, and hope. One of the more prominent events took place in 1991, when a New York based group of artists and AIDS activists, created and began using a Red Ribbon -demonstrating compassion for people living with AIDS and their caregivers.

In 1992, it was declared as "The Year of the Ribbon" by the The New York Times.

Fast forward and a Red Ribbon has now become an internationally recognized symbol and icon for over 35 different causes that include: AIDS, Cardiovascular Disease, DARE, Red Ribbon Week, Heart Disease, Lymphoma, and MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) -to name a full. See the full list of Red Ribbon Causes.

Today, Awareness Ribbons have become symbols drawing attention to health and human issues, as well as, social concerns. There are even some ribbons with patterns, such as the Autism Awareness Ribbon displays as a multi-colored puzzle piece. In the United States, the Yellow Ribbon, symbolizes military service. However, the most widely recognized ribbon is the Pink Ribbon in support of those with Breast Cancer Awareness.

2 comments

Pearl Blay said...

This is betraying my age, but I do remember that first yellow ribbon back in the 1970's! Great article!

Stephanie White said...

Thank you Pearl! So glad you visited and with your expertise in the jewelry business, I take that as a compliment! :-)