Instead of an oak tree, we thought it would be more fun to tie yellow ribbons around our babies to lovingly show they are missing daddy and awaiting his return.
I'm sure you've seen yellow ribbons displayed as a sign of loyalty to family, friends or loved ones who are away from home. It is often used to welcome home men and women who have been away for a long time under circumstances such as war.
Did you ever wonder where the Yellow Ribbon Tradition came from? The following is what I learned about the history of the yellow ribbon from American Family Traditions.
In 1973 Tony Orlando and Dawn cut their number one song of that year and their all-time classic: “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree.”
Told as a true story, the incident occurred on a bus bound for Miami, Florida. It seems that one of the passengers had just been released from prison and he was bound for home. He had written his wife and let her know he still loved her and wanted to be with her. He asked her to tie a yellow ribbon around the lone oak tree in the Town Square of White Oak, Georgia, if she still had feelings for him and wanted him to be with her. Everyone in the bus asked the Driver to slow down as they approached, Sure enough, it was there!
The Driver pulled over and phoned the wire services to share the story. It quickly spread throughout the country. Songwriters Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown wrote the ballad from the news story.
Now a twist to that supposed true story is that L. Russell Brown had the inspiration for writing the song from a civil war soldier, a stagecoach and yellow handkerchiefs. Can you imagine why the handkerchiefs were yellow?? UGH! He changed the handkerchiefs to ribbons so as not to offend anyone with what makes handkerchiefs yellow, updated the stagecoach to a bus and wrote the lyrics with Irwin Levine.
“Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree” was released in February 1973. It was the number one hit by April 1973.
The song became a hit again in 1981 when the 52 Iran Hostages were returned after 444 days of captivity. The song was played throughout the United States because by then the Yellow Ribbon had become a symbol of loyalty."