Yellow Ribbons are being tied all over lampposts outside the student center as well as on students’ jackets and residence hall room doors. Yet, there is more to the ribbon than meets the eye.
Yellow Ribbon Wearers
On the gray peacoat that she wears every day, Christine Brower, sophomore elementary education and psychology major, displays a yellow ribbon made from thin, ribbed material usually used for decorative gift-wrapping.
Although she has no relations or acquaintances overseas, she has the same hopes that troops will return home safely. And her views on the war itself are somewhat reminiscent of the 1960s.
“I’m not really for the war, but I support our troops,” Brower said. “But if I had it my way, we would all live like that Beatles’ song, ‘Imagine.'”
While other supporters do not wear their support on their sleeves, they make their point just the same by putting yellow ribbons in their Instant Messenger profiles. The tiny graphic glows bright yellow next to slogans of “God bless our troops” or can even stand alone.
“The yellow ribbon is a sign of support and having it in my profile shows other people where I stand,” Jeff Kearns, sophomore management major, said.
“I believe the purpose it serves is to remind people that there are fellow Americans doing their job in Iraq and we should support them and their families,” Matt Ziegler, sophomore accounting major, said, justifying his electronic yellow ribbon. “In this time, Americans need to come together and and look beyond the politics of the war.”
Students Showing Support
Lambda Sigma Upsilon, Delta Sigma Pi, Student Government Association and the Inter Greek Council have collaborated to bring more yellow-ribbon support during their “Support Our Troops Day” last Friday. Yellow ribbons were given out, but the efforts also included letters to troops and donation collections.
Delta Sigma Pi, professional business fraternity, asked for a donation in exchange for a ribbon. They were also selling “Support Our Troops” T-shirts for $8 each. Last week, they raised over $1,500 and are planning to send the money either directly to troops in cash or in the form of phone cards.
“We had a lot of people say that they knew people over there,” Vicki Hall, sophomore international business major, said.
Wes Underwood, member of Delta Sigma Pi, went to a naval high school academy and knows colleagues overseas.
are you seriousJen Nemmers, also a Delta Sigma Pi member, has an uncle in the ground forces in Iraq. It is for these troops in particular that the fraternity decided to participate in the day.
Lambda Sigma Upsilon wanted to send its support directly to the troops. Members had paper, pens and kind words for their letters where students wrote their warmest wishes to overseas forces. All of their collected donations were being sent to the Red Cross.
“Apparently, more people like to donate rather than write,” Giuseppe Ilaria, member of Lambda Sigma Upsilon and senior math education major, said as only one letter had been written at the beginning of its event.
The fraternity also had a banner full of autographs and writings to be sent overseas. Full of multi-color markings, the banner contained slogans of “come home safe,” “stay strong” and “thanks for your dedication.”
History of the Ribbon
The tradition of wearing yellow ribbons may date back to the Civil War when the U.S. Cavalry wore yellow trim on their uniforms. Women who were married to or dating soldiers wore yellow ribbons as they waited for their men to return from battle.
The yellow ribbon debuted on movie screens in “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” a 1949 western starring John Wayne. A U.S. Cavalry post is trapped far out in the Indian country and the story centers around a veteran captain about to return. Meanwhile, loyal wives play out the saga from their homes.
More modern records of the ribbon being used come from an incident that occurred on a bus bound for Miami, Fl. A prisoner who had just been released was on his way home. He had written his wife to let her know he still loved her and wanted to be with her. He asked her to tie a yellow ribbon around the lone oak tree in the Town Square of White Oak, Ga, if she still had feelings for him and wanted him to be with her. Of course, he found the ribbon there, and other bus passengers spread the story.
Songwriters Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown got word of the tale and wrote their hit song, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree” in 1973. However, they changed the story into one about a Civil War soldier, a stagecoach and yellow ribbons.
The song became a hit again in 1981 when the 52 hostages in Iran were returned after 444 days of captivity. By then, the yellow ribbon had become a national symbol of support and loyalty.
By the time of the 1991 Gulf War, yellow ribbons were everywhere – pinned on jackets, tied around trees and anywhere else they could be displayed.
If a yellow ribbon is displayed today, it is usually assumed to be associated with a war that is going on. No matter how it originated, it is now known for it support of those who are doing their country a service. Its vibrant yellow voice echoes “we love you, we miss you and we’re with you every step of the way until you’re home, safe.”
– Information obtained from www.wcity.net/ServiceStar/YRHistory.html.