(WYTV) – The peace sign in one of the most recognized symbols in the world.
It’s also become an emblem for several political and cultural movements, but we first saw it in the 1950’s for one very specific movement: nuclear disarmament.
A British artist named Gerald Holtom came up with the design. He was a conscientious objector during World War II.
During the late 1950’s, some people in England became worried about the nuclear arms race between the United States, the Soviet Union and, yes, England too.
They organized a march in London against nuclear weapons and Holtom drew the symbol for the event: a circle with three lines inside.
He used the semaphore alphabet: two flags are held down at 45 degrees (the letter N) and two flags held straight up and down (the letter D).
He never copyrighted the symbol. He wanted everyone to use.
In the 1960’s, the hippies adopted it. The movement against the Vietnam war also used it. It is now a universal symbol for peace.
Before Holtom died in 1985, he told friends he wanted his symbol on his tombstone, only the other way around, looking more like a tree.
However, it didn’t make it onto his tombstone.