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Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree was written by Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown, who based it on a story they heard in the 1960s:
A man who was released after three years in prison boarded a bus, on his way home.
I’m coming home, I’ve done my time,
Now I’ve got to know what is and isn’t mine…
He told the driver that he had written his wife to tie a yellow ribbon around the only oak tree in the city square if she forgave him.
Tie a yellow ribbon round the ole oak tree,
It’s been three long years, do ya still want me?…
As the bus neared his hometown, everyone looked out for the old oak tree, and saw hundreds of yellow ribbons on it.
Now the whole damn bus is cheering, and I can’t believe I see
A hundred yellow ribbons round the ole oak tree.
The song was popularised in 1973, when it was sung by Tony Orlando and Dawn. It topped the Billboard Top 100 for four weeks that year.
About the Yellow Ribbon Project
The name for the Yellow Ribbon Project was inspired by this song. Just as the song sings of giving a second chance, the Yellow Ribbon Project aims to unlock the second prison. What’s the second prison? It’s the stigma attached with being incarcerated before, which hampers an ex-inmate’s re-acceptance into society.
Since it first began in 2004, the Yellow Ribbon Project has been actively raising awareness of the ex-offenders’ difficulties, cultivating acceptance, and nurturing support for the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders back into society. This 2009 will see more community involvement by inmates as Yellow Ribbon Project focuses on ‘giving back’ to society, having been beneficiaries over the past years. Some projects this year are:
- An art exhibition to raise funds for charity: Inmates took part in an art competition and artists of the short listed entries were treated to a one hour bonding session with their families at an art workshop (Prisoners display artistic flair, Straits Times, 2 July 2009). 44 out of the 454 entries will be exhibited at the Singapore Art Museum this September. Funds raised through the adoption of the art pieces will be donated to other charities. Find out more here.
- National Day: Nearly 35,000 goodie packs for the National Day Parade celebration were packed by 88 inmates who worked alongside other volunteers (Prisoners put together National Day funpacks, Straits Times, 24 June 2009).
- Cooking for seniors: The prisoners will also be cooking a buffet with volunteers from Lions Club of Singapore. Former offenders will help to deliver the food from the prison’s kitchens to several old folks’ homes (Inmates serve up Father’s Day family treat, Straits Times 21 June 2009).
You can get involved too by supporting them. The first marathon through the Changi Prison (Yes you get to run into Changi Prison!) will happen on 6th September 2009. Sign up for the run here.
The Yellow Ribbon Project is also supporting the library through a reading promotion. Stand to win $500 when you borrow books at any of the 22 Public Libraries. It’s easy. Just borrow any 6 items, answer 3 simple questions about the Yellow Ribbon Project, and drop your loan receipt into the boxes at the libraries. Read our poster here.
1. Yellow ribbon becomes symbol during gulf war, Associated Press, 4 February 1991, Factiva.com, 3 July 2009, http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
2. This day in music, BPI Entertainment News Wire, 22 March 1999, Factiva.com, 3 July 2009, http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
3. Levine, Irwin and Brown, L. Russell, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon round the Ole Oak Tree”, An American salute : songs for patriots : easy piano arrangements: level two, Las Vegas, NV : Brimhall Music, c1991.
Posted by Ang Mei Jun,
Associate Librarian, Adult & Young People’s Services