TO SALUTE OUR VETERANS, Google is flying a colorful symbol of remembrance that has become synonymous with supporting our troops.
To mark Veterans Day, today’s “Doodle” on the California company’s home page is a pastoral, watercolor-bright scene of a hillside tree that stands in for the “l” in the otherwise cloudy “Google” logo. Around the tree, tellingly, is tied an elegant yellow ribbon.
In folklore and film and song, a yellow ribbon has long been an emblem of remembrance.
Veterans Day — then called Armistice Day — was proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 to mark the end of World War I. Those fascinated with the numerology of today’s 11-11-11 date might do well to remember: World War I’s major fighting ceased when Germany signed the Armistice in 1918 — on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
In 1954, Congress changed “Armistice” to “Veterans” following a campaign urging that the federal holiday should celebrate all veterans, not just those of the Great War.
Google is perhaps especially mindful in rendering such a simply elegant logo: In 2010, the company sparked a kerfuffle when some people contended they saw a crescent moon — symbolizing Islam — in the “Doodle.”
This year, Google notes that it has set up a site for veterans and families.
Citing what can be found on the site, Carrie Laureno, founder of Google Veterans Network, writes: “We believe it will be useful to all veterans, whether still in the service, transitioning out, or on a new path in their civilian lives.”
Laurence also notes that Google recently went “to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to teach wounded, ill and injured servicemembers how to use Google tools to stay in touch with their loved ones while in recovery.”
Google also announced that it has launched a Veterans Channel on YouTube.
According to some oral traditions, women began wearing yellow ribbons in their hair to symbolize that a beloved was away, sometimes in battle. In the 1949 John Ford film “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” John Wayne famously played a captain who must help two women — one wearing the ribbon of remembrance — evacuate after Custer and his cavalry are wiped out. The film was said to be inspired by the tune, “Round Her Neck She Wore a Yeller Ribbon.”
The yellow ribbon symbolizes “commitment to honoring America’s military, who are proudly serving around the globe, their families, those who are missing in action, and those who have fallen,” according to YellowRibbonAmerican.com.
This reportedly is the fifth straight year that Google has marked Veterans Day with a Doodle.
In Commonwealth countries such as the United Kingdom, Google is also marking Remembrance Day today — with a small home-page poppy, inspired by the famed 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields.”
And to mark Veterans Day, as Google’s yellow ribbon whips and flutters in the breeze, we recall President Wilson’s resonant words of first commemoration:
“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
To all veterans, for your courage and commitment and sacrifice, we salute you.