The iconic poster by John Lennon and Yoko Ono celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Some well deserved attention for an important message.
On March 20th, 1969, John Lennon married Yoko Ono. The marriage was celebrated by organizing two Bed-Ins for Peace. The first ran from March 25th to 31st at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The second, from May 26th to June 2nd, was at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada. On June 1st the song Give Peace A Chance was recorded there, which was released as a single on July 4th, 1969 (being the first solo single by John Lennon).
John Lennon and Yoko Ono had just gotten started. They began their War Is Over poster campaign on December 15th, 1969. On that day they flew into Toronto, Canada to start off part 3 of their peace campaign. In 11 cities (New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Rome, Athens, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong) posters were distributed and plastered and billbards were rented carrying the text War is over! If you want it. Happy Christmas from John & Yoko. Newspaper ads and radio commercials were also put in place. When Lennon was asked what the campaign had cost, he answered “I don’t know – but it is cheaper than someone’s life”.
When we stick posters around saying, “WAR IS OVER (If You Want It)”, what we’re trying to promote is an awareness in people of how much power they have, and not to rely on the government, or leaders, or teachers so much that they’re all passive or automatons. They have to have new hope. Everybody’s looking for goals and answers; the youth especially. What we’re trying to tell them is that “You are the goal. Nobody on earth can do it for you. Whatever it is you want, you must do it yourself”.
© John Lennon, 1969
In 2015 Yoko Ono launched the Imagine Peace website, offering the poster for free download to spread as far and wide as possible. She wrote:
The WAR IS OVER! campaign was once a tiny seed, which spread and covered the Earth.
John and I believed it helped many people to stop their wars. Since then, every WAR IS OVER! campaign has impacted the world as powerfully as the first one.
Start yours tomorrow, and you will see that it spreads and covers the world very fast and, meanwhile, makes you a Small Pebble Person.
Small Pebble People are people who know that small pebbles, when they’re dropped in the ocean, will immediately affect the ocean of the whole wide world.
Don’t throw a big stone. It scares people and creates repercussions.
Just drop a small pebble.
We’ll keep doing it. Together.
That’s how the world gets changed…by Small Pebble People.
We change, and the world changes.
I love you!
1 December 2015
Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Two years after the poster campaign Lennon and Ono recorded their peace song Happy Xmas (War Is Over) with the Harlem Community Choir. According to the John Lennon Museum the song was primarily meant to get people to take responsibility for the world around them. The opening line says it all really: So this is Christmas / And what have you done.
War Is Over poster
The poster below is available in over 100 languages.
John Lennon – War Is Over – Billboards 1969 image: commondreams.org
John Lennon & Yoko Ono – Bed-In For Peace – Amsterdam 1969 image: pinterest.com
John Lennon & Yoko Ono – War Is Over campaign 1969 image: dangerousminds.com
Yoko Ono – handtekening & War Is Over poster images: warisover.com