A Tale of a Yellow Ribbon and Oak Tree Takes a Singing Trio to #1
Back in 1973, the popular singing trio, Tony Orlando and Dawn created a cultural tradition in a song that is still carried on to this day. In the song titled, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree,” Tony Orlando and his back-up singers, Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Williams.
The yellow-ribbon is known to be a tradition of support in terms of absent or missing loved ones. This Library of Congress investigated the true origin of this message and meaning.
“What prompted the sudden interest in the origins of the "tradition" was the spontaneous appearance all around the country of yellow ribbons welcoming the U.S. hostages home after 444 days in captivity in Iran. The Library's experts heard assertions of connections to the 1949 John Wayne film She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and they found a 1917 song called ""Round Her Neck She Wears a Yeller Ribbon (For her Lover Who Is Fur, Fur Away)," but they found no actual evidence of anyone ever actually wearing yellow ribbons or tying them to trees, lampposts, etc. Instead, the Library of Congress ruled that the most compelling evidence explaining the origin of the yellow-ribbon "tradition" was to be found in a television interview with Penelope Laingen, wife of the U.S. Chargé d'Affaires in Tehran, whose ribbon-bedecked Maryland home appears to have started the trend in 1981. "It just came to me," she said, "to give people something to do, rather than throw dog food at Iranians. I said, 'Why don't they tie a yellow ribbon around an old oak tree.' That's how it started." Her reported inspiration: the Tony Orlando song that reached #1 on this day in 1973.”
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