The peace sign is 60 years old this year

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The symbol of peace, the peace sign, is 60 years old this year (2018).

The peace sign is 60 years old this yearIt could be seen on VW mini-buses and other vehicles of the Hippie generation, on the helmets of some soldiers in Vietnam, at Woodstock, and many other places. Sixty years ago Gerald Holtom from Britain created this, the world's best known symbol. The circle and the three lines since stand for peace and reconciliation even though the inspiration itself comes from British military “language”.

Certain groups, especially so-called evangelical, and born-again, Christians claimed and still claim that this symbol was and is the sign of the Antichrist as it is an upside down broken cross. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The British graphic designer and artist Gerald Holtom created this emblem in 1958 on behalf of the British Anti-Nuclear War Initiative who were looking for a suitable emblem for a protest march. On February 21 of that year Holtom presented his scetches.

Later the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) which had grown out of the Initiative and other similar organizations this emblem as their logo. That's why in Britain this symbol is also called the CND-symbol.

With Holtom's sympol on their banners peace activists marched from Good Friday to Easter Sunday 1958 from London to the nuclear weapons facility at Aldermaston in order to protest for peace and reconciliation and against all manner of war, nuclear especially.

The idea for the symbol Hortom took from the sign language of the military, namely flag semaphore alphabet of the Navy which is used to communicate ship to shore, and shore to ship, as well as ship to ship, my means of flags. Each letter is represented by a specific way in which the flags are being held. Holtom worked during the Second World War on the Norfolk coast and had learned this communications medium. For the peace symbol he used the two letters N and D for “Nuclear” and “Disarmament”. The two letters, superimposed upon each other, for the symbolic chicken foot, with the circle representing the Earth.

In a later explanation as to how he came upon the symbol be had a different story, possibly trying to distance himself from the military-based alphabet employed.

As Holtom did deliberately not copyrighted his design it has traveled the world, basically, and is being used all across the world as a symbol for peace and against war. It is, nowadays, also being found not just in anti-nuclear war and anti-war protests in general but also at many other demonstrations for a variety of related issues.

Aside from this sign there are a couple of other “peace signs” and probably the oldest and best-known is the stylized white dove with (or without) the olive branch. Already in the story about the Flood in the Bible, on European coins in the 17th century and in fairy-tales the white dove takes the role of the messenger of good news or of peace. After Pablo Picasso in 1949 put the white dove onto a poster for the Paris Peace Conference it became symbol for peace.

© 2018