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Peace Sign Meaning

peace sign meaning
The peace sign was designed by Gerald Haltom in the 1950s

History of the Peace Sign Meaning





There are tons of icons that deal with peace sign meaning…Doves, an olive branch, the calumet (Native American peace pipe), but the peace symbol shown above is perhaps the most globally recognized in the twentieth century.

In Britain during the 1950s, there was an anti-war movement.  They successfully established the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). The peace symbol we know today was first seen on protest signs during the Aldermaston Peace March in April 1958.  The village of Aldermaston was ideal for the protest march because there was an atomic weapons research facility located nearby.  The protest on this facility was launched by Hugh Brock, who sparked the publication called Peace News.

Back History on How the Peace Symbol Was Created

Mr. Brock met a gentleman named Gerald Holtom, who was a fellow pacifist.  Holtom was a gifted graphic artist.  After some discussion, Brock and Holtom determined a distinct symbol should be created to bring awareness to their anti-war cause.  Hence the beginning of this highly recognizable peace icon.

Being a Christian, Holtom initially wanted the Christian cross in the center of the circle.  However, this met opposition from members of the anti-war movement, as well as controversy from the church.  Opponents of the cross felt the peace sign meaning might be confused with a Christian cause – when in fact, the cause was to cease nuclear arms.

In a moment of deep misery and despair, Holtom began to draw himself in this state of anguish.  He envisioned himself helpless and defeated.

What resulted was a peace sign meaning with two parts:  One part illustrating  human stick figure hanging up-side down, symbolizing helplessness. The second part depicting arms outstretched – symbolizing complete surrender.  This design, if closely observed, also contains the letters N and D, which stand for ‘Nuclear Disarmament.’

peace sign meaning
Later, in the 60s and 70s Hotom’s peace sign was adopted by the US as a symbol for anti-war causes

The Peace Sign Meaning Goes Viral

Holtom made 500 copies of the peace sign and distributed the symbol on lollipop wrappers as well as flyers for the anti-war cause.  Due to this impressive distribution of the peace symbol and it’s corresponding anti-war message, the symbol went viral.

Organizers of the Aldermaston march to protest atomic weapon research figured they would be lucky to get about 100 participants in the march.  But due to Holtom and his peace sign meaning, the number of attendants skyrocketed to over 10,000 for the march.

That anti-war march at Aldermaston became world famous.  So much so, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament adopted Holtom’s symbol as the official peace icon for their cause.

Uses and Peace Sign Meanings in the United States

Later, the peace sign meaning gained influence in the United States as a symbol for for peace instead of war.  During the late 1960’s-70’s Holtom’s peace symbol was reproduced and mass distributed as an icon protesting the Vietnam War.

Your research on Holtom’s peace sign meaning might take you to some dark associations. The symbol was heavily maligned by supporters of the Vietnam War.

Regardless, the peace sign meaning is alive and well to this day. It still stands strong as an easily recognizable icon representing harmony, union and the idea that love, not war is an ideal concept for the world.

I hope you enjoyed these facts on Holtom’s peace sign meaning.  If you enjoyed this post, you might also like the articles below listed.  As always, thank you for reading.

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