Wednesday, September 27, 2006

We Need a Better Ribbon for the Old Oak Tree

By Kanrei

I wonder how many people would scream and curse me out if I compared the U.S. troops to criminals. Actually I know the response I would get. I would be called a traitor, anti-American, and a fan of Osama Bin Laden. The truth is that the people saying those things to be would be correct to say that if I compared the troops to a convict. I wonder if those with yellow ribbons on their cars realize this is the statement they are making?

Tony Orlando and Dawn recorded the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree” in 1973. It tells the tale of an ex-con recently released from prison that is on a bus heading home. The man had been in prison for the last three years and lost touch with the love of his life and is returning home to her, but is not sure if she still wants him back after his conviction. He asks her to tie a yellow ribbon around an oak tree as a sign if she wants him to return. If he does not see the ribbon, he plans to stay on the bus and pass her by.

As the bus approaches her stop, the man asks the bus driver to keep an eye out for him because he was too nervous to look. When it gets to the stop, the entire bus erupts in cheers as they see hundreds of yellow ribbons lining the entire street. She forgives his crime and wants him back. A very touching tale and a fairly good song as well, but why do we use this tale to show the troops we support them?

Everywhere I look as I drive down the road I see yellow ribbons on the back of SUVs with the words “support our troops” inscribed upon it. I remember the Iran Hostage Crisis and the yellow ribbons used to show support for them, but the analogy made more sense in that case. The Iranian hostages were prisoners. They were held against their will. The troops volunteered and are heroes. The yellow ribbon is for victims. Even the popular history of the yellow ribbon can be traced back to victims, not heroes.

It is from the tale of a solider returning home from Andersonville Prison which is what L. Russell Brown had in mind when he wrote the song with Irwin Levine. He was inspired by seeing an oak tree on his way to Levine’s house and told Levine the story of the civil war soldier who was coming home on a stagecoach and was greeted by his wife waving a yellow handkerchief. Decorum made the handkerchief become a ribbon because of the distasteful bodily fluid that makes a handkerchief yellow and there you have it.

The troops are heroes and there is no doubt that someone would want them to return home. The thought behind the yellow ribbon is sincere, but the story behind it makes it a rather bad emblem to show support for our troops.


I realize I am probably alone in this thought. I tend to make connections no one else would ever think of, but this is one that has bothered me for a while now.


9 comments:

Serena Joy said...

I see what your thinking is, where you're making the connection. The yellow ribbon thingey symbolizing "welcome home" has become pretty universal by now, though. Everyone sees it in a benevolent light, so I'm guessing the returning soldiers appreciate it.

RexZeitgiest said...

How about mauve colored ribbons?

I never realized what the genesis of that song was, I always thought it was about Vietnam, but I do know that Tony Orlando was glad the song was used as a rallying cry for returning soldiers.....So I guess it underwent an evolution....

Kanrei said...

It became a "welcome home" symbol after Iran and now is a symbol of support. I just always am amused by stories about the origins of things and how they never really represent what we think they should.

I always made the vietnam connection as well until I really listened to the song a few years ago. I noticed the singer was a criminal leaving jail and not a soldier returning home and the entire thing threw me for a loop.

This really started because I need a color not being used by another ribbon so I can make my ribbon to "increase ribbon awareness"

Kanrei said...

No maroon colored ribbons, that is a racial slur.

RexZeitgeist said...

?

Thats right Iran...Now I remeber here the 'Rest of the Story' on the AM......

Symbol change and evolve...Look at the swastika......a symbol of life turned into pure evil........

Strange events indeed....

RexZeitgeist said...

hearing*

Anonymous said...

I often see the people with the yellow ribbons on their cars and I get enraged with anger. I wish at that point I was driving a 18 wheeler instead of an hybrid.


I want to ram their cars and suvs and push them off the road down the side of a mountain and watch their vehicles explode. The fantasy makes me chuckle.

Those people elected Bush and I can think of no better fate than a firey death for them.

Variant E said...

Gosh. I wish the whole world wore a yellow ribbon around everything they own. I wish every pregnant mother wore "Baby on board" earrings and T-Shirts. I wish all parents had "My kid is an honor roll" bumper stickers. I wish we all wore Livestrong bracelets. I'd like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony. I'd like to buy the world a coke and...
Wait! That's already a song. Damn.

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