History of the Pink Ribbon

This is a short history on the use of ribbons as a symbol of rememberance and awareness.

It starts with 19th century American women who wore a yellow ribbon in their hair as a symbol of their devotion to husbands and sweethearts who were away, serving in the US Calvalry. The Calvalry's official color was yellow. The John Wayne movie "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" is a direct reference to this custom.

There is also the marching song "Round Her Neck, She Wore A Yeller Ribbon," sung in the US military that was copyrighted in 1917. (and no, that's not a typo)

In 1973 "Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree," sung by Tony Orlando & Dawn, was a number one hit in the USA, UK and Australia. The message of this yellow ribbon was "You Are Welcome Home."

Six years later, during the Gulf War, Penney Laingen tied yellow ribbons on the trees in her front yard, showing the world her longing for the release and return of her husband who was a hostage held in Iran. Penney's display got into the news and yellow ribbons appeared on trees all over the world, in support of loved ones away at war.

At the 1990 Tony Awards, actor Jeremy Irons wore a red ribbon. This is considered to be the first time an actor wore a red ribbon publicly to bring awareness to the serious problem of AIDS. Soon after, other actors and public figures followed suit.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation handed out pink ribbons to participants in the 1991 Race for Breast Cancer in New York City.

Charlotte Hayley, who had breast cancer, handed out peach colored ribbons with cards attached that stated that the National Cancer Institute only spends 5% of their $1.8 billion on prevention. She felt prevention and early detection deserved more attention.

Alexandra Penney (editor-in-chief at Self magazine) and Evelyn Lauder (senior VP at Estee Lauder) approached Hayley about working together but Hayley declined. Penney and Lauder teamed up to create pink ribbons as the international symbol of breast cancer awareness.

Legally, in most places, the symbol of the pink ribbon is considered public domain. In Canada, the pink ribbon is the official trademark of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Arabic: شريط وردي
Spanish: Lazo Rosado
French: Ruban Rose
Italian: Nastro Rosa
Galician: Lazo Vermello
German: Rosa Schleife
Dutch: Roze Lint
Danish: Lyserøde Sløjfe
Croatian: Ružičasta vrpca
Czech: Růžová stužka
Finnish: Roosa Nauha
Hungarian: Rózsaszín szalag
Norwegian: Rosa Sløyfe
Latvian: Rozā lente
Lithuanian: Rožinis kaspinas
Persian: روبان صورتی
Polish: Różowa Wstążka
Romanian: Panglica Roz
Ukrainian: Рожева стрічка
Russian: Pозовая лента
Slovak: Ružová stužka
Swedish: Rosa Bandet
Catalan: Llaç Rosa
Turkish: Pembe Kurdele
Japanese: ピンクリボン
Chinese: 粉红丝带
Serbian: Ružičasta mašna
Slovenian: Rožnati trak

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