Peace symbols come in many forms, but the most recognized symbol of peace around the world is now the peace sign. Many groups now embrace it as a symbol for what they want to see in the world. It graces everything from children’s bedroom sets to chic shirts at shops like Be So Do So to buttons that activists don in protests like the Occupy movement.
Many celebrities have donned peace signs for various occasions as well, including Miley Cyrus, Madonna, and Sarah Polley. In fact, Sarah Polley has remarked that her relationship with Disney soured when she refused to take off a peace sign at an event; studio executives thought it was too controversial, according to a Yahoo! Movies biography.
The peace sign is formed from a combination of the semaphore signals for “D” and “N.” Those letters stood for nuclear disarmament. You see, the peace sign was designed by Gerald Holtom for the British nuclear disarmament movement, and his original drawing of it is on display at the Peace Museum in Bradford, England.
In 1958, the first peace badge was formed from ceramic for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, an anti-nuclear organization that still works for peace today. It was worn for a march from Trafalgar Square in London, England, to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment in Aldermaston, England.
This symbol went on to become the unofficial, frequently used badge of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament through the years. Since it wasn’t patented or copyrighted by its designer, the symbol was able to spread to other groups and activists until it was eventually used in a mainstream way to symbolize the overall anti-war movement.
Today, it means many things to many people. It mostly stands for people’s beliefs in peace on earth and a peace we can all make happen if we try hard enough and come together.