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A Symbol of Peace

FLOWER POWER A person protesting the war in Ukraine raises a sunflower in London, England, on March 26. HOLLIE ADAMS—GETTY IMAGES

The Russian invasion of Ukraine continues. Displaying sunflowers is one of the many ways the world has shown solidarity solidarity ANDREY ATANOV—ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES unity (noun) My family showed solidarity with Ukraine by displaying its flag in our window. with the Ukrainian people.

At President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech, in March, First Lady Jill Biden wore a dress with a sunflower design on the right sleeve. In Mexico City, Mexico, and Caracas, Venezuela, protesters have carried sunflowers while taking to the streets to condemn Russia’s actions. In London, supporters of Sunflowers for Peace placed the flowers between barricades at the Russian embassy building. The charity organizes aid for Ukrainians. In Reno, Nevada, people used sunflowers to decorate a public art piece that spells out “BELIEVE.”

SHOW OF UNITY These protesters are carrying candles and wearing the Ukrainian flag in Madrid, Spain, on March 31.


Globally, awareness of the association between sunflowers and Ukraine has grown. The flower has come to be seen as a symbol of resistance. Since the invasion began, on February 24, Ukrainians have fought back against the Russian army. And many countries have sent military aid to help Ukraine fight the war. Displaying the sunflower has become a way of saying the world must continue to exhibit the courage that Ukrainians have shown.

BRIGHT HOPES Handmade sunflowers decorate an elementary school window in Chicago, Illinois, on March 3.


Hope for the Future

Sunflowers have a long history in Ukraine. They are called soniashnyky in Ukrainian. They’ve been grown in the country since the mid–18th century, according to the 1993 Encyclopedia of Ukraine. The flower’s seeds are a popular snack. The sunflower also helps fuel the country’s economy. Ukraine and Russia supply up to 80% of the world’s sunflower-oil exports.

“The ubiquitous ubiquitous SEKSAN MONGKHONKHAMSAO—GETTY IMAGES common; familiar (adjective) Electric cars will become ubiquitous once there are more charging stations. presence of the sunflower in the villages and countryside of Ukraine has made it an unofficial national symbol,” the encyclopedia says.

Throughout Ukraine’s history, the sunflower has been used as a symbol of peace. In June 1996, defense ministers from Ukraine, Russia, and the United States met at a missile base in southern Ukraine. They went to celebrate Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons. During a ceremony, they planted sunflowers.

More than 25 years later, Russia and Ukraine are at war. But the meaning of sunflowers as symbols of peace has not changed. Sunflowers continue to crop up around the world. They are a call for leaders to plant the seeds again for a more peaceful future.