The glyph encircled is probably the most famous symbol on earth. Practically, the world over, the pattern is recognized as the peace sign. Actually, this eye-catching design is the logo for the “Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament”. It’s known in Britain as the “CND Symbol”.
The CND Symbol was unveiled on this date in 1958 by the designer, Gerald Holtom. The committee decided to print 500 square poster signs on stakes. Half of the signs were produced in black on white to be used before Easter. The other half of the printing order would be white on green to be used on Easter Sunday and afterwards. It was planned to coincide with the Christian church’s changing of liturgical colors on Easter weekend.
The use of the signs would accentuate the first major anti-nuke peace march from London to the nuclear weapons plant in Aldermaston on Easter weekend of 1958. The color change of the signs would mirror the liturgical color change. The switch from winter to spring or death to life was the intent.
People like to wear campaign pins or badges. The first peace pins were an adaptation of Holtom’s design by Eric Austin of the Kensington, England chapter of the CND. The CND Symbol was black paint on white clay. A small note accompanied each badge saying that if nuclear war broke out, the pottery badges would be some of the few artifacts to survive the destruction of civilization.
So, how did Holtom come up with the unique design? During World War Two, Holtum was a conscientious objector assigned to work on a farm near Norfolk, England. He was familiar with the International Code Flags and semaphore symbology. He decided to combine the semaphore positions for N and D (Nuclear Disarmament).
The artist said that he was in despair about the fate of the world because of the nuclear arms race. Holtom said he visualized the image of Goya’s Peasant Before The Firing Squad, then simplified it to a line drawing with a circle around it. Pin designer, Austin, said he thought of the despair gesture’s association with death of man and a circle with an unborn child.
Because the CND Symbol had never been copyrighted on purpose, its utilization was OK for other uses. Eventually, the CND Symbol and the slogan “Ban The Bomb” melded into the 1960s youth counter-culture of the 1960s. This happened around the time of opposition to American military actions in Vietnam. This led to the popularization of the CND Symbol as the Peace Symbol.
The use of the peace sign has been dormant for many years. However, with renewed, massive military activity and wars once again promoted by various national governments, peace groups and occupy movements have again adopted the peace sign and its symbology.
The Blue Jay of Happiness also remembers the other traditional peace signs. The “V” formed by fingers of the hand is one. The other is the dove with an olive branch.