Introduction: Throughout the vast majority of most of our lives, the victory sign, created by extending the middle and forefinger of either hand, has been a prominent gesture within our society. To us, or at least to me, the gesture is merely a setting to which our bodies default when not given the opportunity to prepare for an unexpected photograph, but this civic artifact’s true meaning and influence has changed quite significantly over time and throughout different cultures. Victory and peace serve as two of the most common meanings, as it was used to signify these ideals in many European countries and the United States after World War II as well as being used in peace demonstrations in Iran. Conversely, flipping the sign so that the back of your hand is facing outwards communicates a very different message of contempt in many European countries as well. Since World War II, the acknowledgement of the victory sign’s true meaning of peace seems to have decreased, but, if it is revitalized through activism, this artifact still has overwhelming potential to influence violence in our world.
- History: Although it was truly popularized by Winston Churchill during WWII, the victory sign was originally used as a two-finger salute by British longbowmen (Mirror). History of the victory sign will be limited in the speech to focus more upon its influence and meaning.
- Meaning: I will talk about the misconception that this artifact holds a different meaning when it is called a “peace sign” which is what it is commonly referred to as in this era. An examination of the names “victory sign” and “peace sign” will hopefully show that the connotations are the only things that differ.
- Influence: Examples of its use to bring about or advocate for change during WWII and the years leading up to now will be enumerated. An analysis of its use and effects today will be offered.
- Future Potential: This artifact’s potential for bringing about change in the future will be extrapolated. I will talk about my hope that the victory sign could one day become a component in bringing about world peace.
While its place in society seems to be unimportant and arbitrary at this point in time, perhaps it is time to revitalize this simple yet powerful gesture. We are bombarded by instances of violence and conflict nearly every single day as we idly sit by as spectators, complacent and content with the way our lives exist now. It should be common knowledge for most of us that complacency plays quite the adversary of progress, and today’s contentious society would benefit from the revival of a gesture that everyone can make in an effort to show support for the overall goal of world peace.
Mirror.co.uk. “The History of the V Sign: How Flicking the Vs Came About.” Mirror, Mirror, 28 Jan. 2012, www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/the-history-of-the-v-sign-how-flicking-430012.