The Story of V for Victory
On January 14, 1941, Victor de Laveleye, former Belgian Minister of Justice and director of the Belgian French-speaking broadcasts on the BBC, suggested that Belgians use a V for victoire(French: “victory”) and vrijheid (Dutch: “freedom”) as a rallying emblem during World War II. Of this sign, de Laveleye said in his famous broadcast, “the occupier, by seeing this sign, always the same, infinitely repeated, will understand that he is surrounded, encircled by an immense crowd of citizens eagerly awaiting his first moment of weakness, watching for his first failure.” The results were almost immediate. Within weeks, the letter V began appearing on walls and in windows throughout Belgium, the Netherlands, and northern France.
Inspired, the British, too, created a “V for Victory” campaign, which was further accepted and accelerated by Winston Churchill’s speeches and constant use of the V-hand sign. Beyond the visual, though, they also implemented an audible sign for victory–the four beats (three dots and a dash) of Morse code used for the letter V. The BBC then began using the musical equivalent to open their broadcasts to occupied Europe. With more than a hint of irony, as the basis of this call sign, they used the opening notes of German composer, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Three short notes followed by one long, this was, to many, the symbolic sound of fate knocking on the door of the Third Reich.
From there allied forces and countries across the world began using the V-sign and wearing victory pins to both promote freedom and celebrate victories, large and small. Thus, in a time of great suffering, we were united in our struggles for victory and by the universal need for freedom. Today–in our countries, in our societies, cities, and homes–are really any different? Do we not now, as much as our parents past, need reminders of our victories? May we be surrounded by an immense crowd of citizens who, no matter their country, color, or past, are just like us in that they have struggled, fought, and come out victorious!
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Celebrate victory anywhere you go with your own victory pin, available for purchase above!