21st September marks the celebration of International Day of Peace. On this ‘international’ day, do we all have the same vision of peace? What does your peace look like? In my case, a white dove that comes to mind. Not nuclear…
Ironically enough, the sign that is internationally known as the peace sign is actually linked to the use of nuclear. Or to be more precise stopping its use. Created in 1958 by Gerald Holtom, a graphic designer and Christian pacifist, the symbol was used for the nuclear disarmement march that took place in London during the Easter week of that year.
The source of his inspiration?
The design is, in part, modeled after naval semaphore flags that sailors use to communicate. Holtom simply combined the codes for “N” (two flags angled down at a 45 degrees) for “nuclear” and “D” (one flag pointed straight up and one flag pointed straight down) for “disarmament.” And then circling it with the threat that menaces us all: nuclear bombing.
Instant growing success
Just two years later, the symbol migrated to the USA, used by the Committee for Nonviolent Action — an American anti-nuclear group. By the mid-1960s, the peace symbol was popping up on pins, Vietnam protest posters, and T-shirts. Very quickly, the symbol was everywhere — in chalk, spray paint, marker, or a finger in wet cement like a secret code, a siren call to fellow pacifists.
Though different peace symbols exist, it is amazing to see how this one symbol has been adopted by many a cause, going beyond its original definition. The symbol’s inherent simplicity allowed it to transcend the decade in which it was born and imprint upon the minds and motivations of generations to come.
Which goes to show that in the end, we do all share one more thing in common across generations and cultures and populations: peace. And if we all share a piece of our inner peace… we may just be able to achieve world peace.