Elegant and graceful, the ribbons on the 2012 Love stamp evoke the feeling of a joyous romantic celebration. We use ribbons to embellish everything from boxes of candy to bridal bouquets, adding romantic touches to gifts for our loved ones. But ribbons have come to signify other kinds of love—love that offers hope and support and validation.
In the 1970s, militants in Iran took diplomats in the U.S. Embassy hostage. During the crisis, the wife of one of the hostages, inspired by a popular song of the era, tied a bright yellow ribbon to the trunk of a tree in her front yard as a symbol of love and hope that her husband would return safely. The yellow ribbon was soon adopted as a manifestation of support for the men and women serving the U.S. overseas in the armed forces and diplomatic corps. (For more on the origins of the symbolism of the yellow ribbon, visit the American Folklore Center of the Library of Congress.)
Since the 1990s, ribbons of all colors have come to signify our support for a variety of causes. Breast cancer survivors and their loved ones proudly sport pink ribbons as they walk in support of the search for a cure. Red ribbons symbolize not only awareness of heart disease, but also support for those suffering from AIDS. Red, white, and blue ribbons declare patriotism and a love of country. There is no definitive list, but different colors can represent multiple causes.
Worn next to our hearts, the iconic looped ribbon is an unmistakable message of love and support. And that kind of love is also cause for joyous celebration.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for last night’s “Sealed with Love” social party! We hope you continue to write more love letters year-round.