The Ribbon Project, 2020

Some History

The Ribbon International was created in 1982 as a protest against nuclear war by Justine Merritt (1924–2009) Merritt conceived the idea of wrapping the Pentagon with a mile of ribbon to recall “that we love the earth and its people,” which is analogous with tying a string around one’s finger to remember something. The event took place on August 4, 1985, the 40th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Ribbon was made in the three years leading up to the Pentagon event from hundreds of panels created by local groups. Each 36 by 18 inch panel used embroidery, quilting, painting and other techniques. The makers were invited to convey their thoughts and emotions in the panels, with their story on the back. Panels were received from contributors in every state in the United States.

When all 27,000 individual panels were joined together on August 4, it created a ribbon 18 miles long. The Ribbon wrapped around the Pentagon building, through the Pentagon parking lot, down the foot paths alongside the Jefferson Davis Highway and Washington Boulevard, crossed the Potomac River into Washington D.C. at the Arlington Memorial Bridge, and traveled into the National Mall area. The Ribbon then went past the Lincoln Memorial, along the south side of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, continuing east along the National Mall, and around the U.S.Capitol Building. It then turned west along the north side of the National Mall, went around the Ellipse by the White House, passed the Lincoln Memorial, crossed the Potomac River again and returned to the Pentagon. The event was covered in the film The Ribbon Starts Here by Nigel Noble (1988). Watch a YouTube video of the 1985 project here.

Let’s Do It Again!

After the coronavirus, we will repeat this successful event. We had planned to do it in August to mark the 75th anniversary of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We need to remember what happened and insist that it never happen again. Check back here for updates as our plans develop.

How to Create Your Panel With Your Message: What I love and cannot bear to think of as being lost forever.

  • Each finished Ribbon panel is 36” wide by 18” high, any type and color of sturdy fabric can be used, including repurposed fabric.
  • On this panel sew, paint, write, embroider, applique, weave, knit, tie dye (anything you want!) to express what you most love and want to protect.
  • Sew 9-inch pieces of ribbon or bias tape to each corner so that your panel may be easily tied to others.
  • Please write your name or group name, your city, state and country, and any story/message on the back of your panel.