A story on NPR’s Morning Edition this morning declares: yellow-ribbon magnets carry complex meaning.

The Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center tells the history of the yellow ribbon. Though its conceptual beginnings are mixed, Penne Laingen was the first known American to tie a ribbon ’round an ole oak tree in hopes of the safe return of a loved one from conflict or captivity. It was 1979, and her husband was among the hostages taken that November in Teheran, Iran. Her story was told in a December 10th Washington Post article titled “Penne Laingen’s Wait.”

Today’s yellow ribbons, car magnets with the text “support our troops” sold for profit almost everywhere, often represent more political meaning than Penne ribbon did. Many of those with yellow ribbon car magnets in Jessie Graham’s NPR story are expressing support for the Iraq war, and general support for the Bush administration. Others, feeling their symbol has been co-opted, have developed a blue ribbon with the text “bring our troops home.”

Our vision is to start a grassroots campaign to create awareness that there is a majority of people in this country who support the idea and find it patriotic that our troops come home as soon as possible. We need a clear vision for the future of how and when our troops will come home.

Note the line “find it patriotic that our troops come home as soon as possible.” In a increasingly polarized country, I’m sure there are some who would rather sport a ribbon than answer why they don’t. What’s worse, however, is the notion of consumer patriotism that suggests you’re a better American for spending $4 on a magnet.

One thought on “Ribbons

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