In 1997, Penne Laingen, wife of Ambassador Bruce Laingen, “tied a yellow ribbon round her oak tree”…in front of her home.
The hostage families met and formed an association: the Family Liaison Action Group (FLAG). FLAG quickly found allies among existing humanitarian organizations, most notably an organization called No Greater Love.
They seem to have formed their strategy around Emerson’s maxim that “A good symbol is the best argument, and is a missionary to persuade thousands.” The symbol they chose for their argument was, of course, the yellow ribbon. Aided by support from Iron Workers, Sheet Metal Workers, Firefighters, and the Painters International Unions of the AFL-CIO, No Greater Love made and distributed ten thousand yellow ribbon pins. These went to union members, members of hostage families, college students, and in a stroke of marketing genius, to TV weather-casters.
Excerpt from Gerald E. Parsons, American Folk Life Center, Smithsonian Institution