by Maria Determan
The use of the ribbon as a symbol dates back to 1979, when Penney Lanigan tied yellow ribbons around trees in her yard. At the time, her husband was being held hostage in Iran, and the ribbons signaled her desire to see him again. She did this simple, yet poignant act that gave ribbons the momentum to become a medium of hope for many organizations.
A little more than a decade later, AIDS activists took the idea and dyed ribbons red to show support for AIDS victims on the national stage at the Tony Awards in 1990.
The red ribbon success was exactly the inspiration the Susan G. Komen Foundation needed to create a ribbon for their own cause – breast cancer awareness. The pink ribbon success made its debut in 1991 at the New York City Race for the Cure, and has been a national symbol ever since.