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yellow ribbon
The yellow ribbon that Penne Laingen tied around her oak tree in 1979, when her husband, Bruce Laingen, was among those taken hostage in Iran. The Laingens donated the ribbon to the Library in 1991. American Folklife Center Collection. Select the photograph for a larger image. Photo by David Taylor.

The New Yellow Ribbon Tradition

Wearing and otherwise displaying ribbons of various colors to remember loved ones far away or to identify with a particular cause is a contemporary custom that has roots in both popular culture and folk tradition. These origins are explored in two articles by the late Gerald E. Parsons Jr., folklorist and reference librarian at the American Folklife Center. The 1981 article was written in response to many queries about displays of ribbons during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979. Over a decade later, during the Gulf War, these questions arose again, and gave rise to a second article.:

 

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   September 30, 2014
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