Universal sign of peace finds its way into latest fashion trends long after its mid-century start

Nicholas Sparling

Walk across campus and take a close look at the students. You are bound to come across a backpack, T-shirt, jewelry or jacket depicting a peace sign. If you head out to the parking lot, you’ll see peace sign stickers and decals.

It’s starting to seem like this 50-year-old symbol is boomeranging its way back into popular culture. The peace sign is not just for hippies anymore.

The symbol spread like wildfire in the culture of the baby boomers and has maintained throughout the decades as a symbol of peace.

The origin of the symbol can be found in the “Symbol Sourcebook” by Henry Drefuss, “It was introduced by pacifist Lord Bertrand Russell during Easter of 1958, when he marched at Aldermaston, England, campaigning for nuclear disarmament.

“The most acceptable explanation of the design relates it to the international semaphore alphabet: N (for nuclear), D (for disarmament). These superimposed signals are surrounded by a circle indicating complete, worldwide or total. Thus, you have the sign for total nuclear disarmament.”

So today, this distinctive mark is universally a symbol for peace.

One student equipped with the peace sign literally from her head to her toes is Katy Lewis who was wearing peace sign earrings as well has having the design in the artwork of her shoes.

“I tend to buy things that have the peace sign, things with bright colors or dealing with the hippie culture,” she said.

The new commonplace sights of the peace sign may not be the harkening of the peace ideal as Lewis observes, “It’s probably just a fad. Forty years ago, it may have been anti-war, but now people wear it and may not even think about what it means.”

Not everyone likes seeing the peace sign as just a fad of the times. Alexandra Espertia thinks it is belittling of the symbol’s meaning when “everyone likes it just because everyone else likes it. It’s become just a fad.”

“It is a sign of my pacifism,” says Alfredo Lorenzo, who has two peace signs hanging from the rear view window in his car.

“I think it’s a weak kind of rebellion. People are realizing that they were really pissed off at Bush. Little by little, I think the trend will slow down now that Obama is in office,” he said.