For 50 Years This Has Been the Symbol Of Peace. Far Out

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The peace symbol -- three simple lines within a circle -- turns 50 today. It's had a colorful and often turbulent life, which is odd considering that it's supposed to symbolize, you know, peace.

Unveiled at a British ban-the-bomb rally on April 4, 1958, the peace symbol's peak of potency was in the 1960s, when it was the emblem of the anti-Vietnam War movement and all things groovily counterculture. (Said its late creator, British graphic designer Gerald Holtom: "I drew myself . . . a man in despair . . . put a circle around it to represent the world.") The symbol has marched in service of many causes over the years: civil rights, women's rights, environmentalism, gay rights, anti-apartheid, the nuclear-freeze movement and the latter-day antiwar crowd.

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Jeff Schneider - 4/6/2008

If you look at the "peace symbol" as semaphores it turns out to be N and D inside a circle. This is how I always understood the origin of the symbol. In the 50s those who wore it upside down were for unilateral disarmament, which is also the semaphore signal for U and D. You could look it up:


Jeff Schneider