Post-war, the Olympic rings got new meaning. And it’s probably not what you’ve been told.

At the ancient Greek site Delphi, you'll find a stone altar, three feet tall, bearing a carving of the iconic Olympic rings.

Seeing this carving, it's easy to imagine it being chiseled into the stone by the very first Olympic champions — runners, wrestlers, and chariot racers — almost 3,000 years ago.

After all, the stone looks like you could trace it back to that time when the "games" were vicious battles played by athletes who offered sacrifices to the gods and feasted at ancient Olympic festivals.


And you wouldn't be the first to think that this stone was ancient.

Olympic ruins in Delphi. Image via yvanox/Pixabay.

American authors Lynn and Gray Poole visited Delphi in the late 1950s, and they thought the stone was an ancient relic, too. They even said so in their book, "History of the Ancient Olympic Games."

And before long, their story carried over to other publications, and it became accepted as fact that this stone in Delphi was the first, 3,000-year-old engraving of the iconic Olympic rings.

It's a great story, but here's the thing – it's not true.

The Olympic symbol we all recognize today was actually invented relatively recently by Pierre de Coubertin in 1913. Coubertin was president of the International Olympic Committee, co-founder of the modern Olympic Games, and a French aristocrat who loved boxing, fencing, and rowing.

Just the year before, the Summer Olympic Games had been held in Stockholm, and for the first time ever, athletes competed from all five inhabited parts of the world.

This inspired Coubertin to hand-draw the rings symbol as interlocked circles in five different colors (blue, yellow, black, green, and red). He created the design for the celebration of the International Olympic Committee's 20th anniversary in 1914.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin. Image via George Grantham Bain Collection/Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons.

"These five rings represent the five parts of the world now won over to Olympism and ready to accept its fertile rivalries," Coubertin wrote in the August 1913 Olympic Review. "Moreover, the six colours thus combined reproduce those of all the nations without exception."

In other words, no single ring represented a specific country, but the symbol as a whole on a white background included colors from all of the world's nations.

Coubertin had quite the reason to celebrate with the rings. By then, the IOC had successfully organized five Games — the first events of our modern Olympics.

Reviving the Games had also been Coubertin's idea. He idolized the ancient Greeks as athletes and as warriors, so it makes sense that the Olympics reflect their traditions at every step.

Coubertin's passion also explains why he would want to highlight those first five events. Some people supported him when he first introduced the idea of the modern Olympics, but nobody expected such explosive success.

Opening ceremony of the 1912 Olympic Games. Image via "The Olympic Games of Stockholm 1912 Official Report"/Wikimedia Commons.

That's why, as historian David Young says, it’s likely that Coubertin chose five rings to represent the first five Games.

And after the 1916 Summer Games in Berlin, Coubertin had hoped to add a sixth ring to the symbol, and many more after that, to honor each host country. He apparently envisioned eventually having a flag full of vibrant rings, reflecting a global array of nations.

But World War I thwarted Coubertin's plans to add more rings. In fact, it shut down the next Olympic Games altogether.

The rings' peaceful sentiment from pre-World War I Europe was gone. It was a whole new world — and one at war. Because of the fighting, the 1916 Games were canceled, and Coubertin's rings would have to wait to be presented to the world.

The war ended in 1918. But even for people in victorious countries like France and the United States, times were still tough. Survivors of the war were cynical, aimless, and traumatized. Gertrude Stein even named them The Lost Generation for that reason.

In that post-war climate, it must have been quite a task to reconvene the Games — no cynic would be interested in unity after different countries had just tried to annihilate each other. Even the IOC's basic task of identifying the participating countries was complicated, to say the least. The war had led to the establishment of new nations, like Czechoslovakia. And some of the previously participating nations, like Germany and and Austria, were banned after losing the war.

But finally, at the 1920 Olympics in Belgium, the Olympic rings made their debut, appearing on a white flag.

The Olympic flag flies in British Columbia in 2012. Image via Scazon/Flickr.

To address the hopelessness in the air, Coubertin adjusted his plans. Instead of a ring for each host country, he decided to keep the five rings, with each representing the "five continents" that come together for the Olympic Games.

His definition of "continent" is now a little outdated — he was referring to Africa, Asia, America, Australia, and Europe. But that message of unity resonated at the time, and it has continued to resonate throughout the years.

In fact, Coubertin's logo became so prevalent that it showed up on a certain stone in Delphi, Greece.

Yep, that famous stone carving was actually created in 1936 — not in ancient Greek times. It was made as a movie prop for a torchbearers' ceremony and left behind after the year's Summer Olympic Games in Berlin.

Still, while that movie prop might have skewed the real story of the rings, it helped popularize the Olympic rings as a symbol of worldwide unity.

Image via Atos International/Wikimedia Commons.

And fortunately, the true meaning behind the rings has remained. Today, the official Olympic charter reads, "The Olympic symbol expresses the activity of the Olympic Movement and represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games."

Team USA's relationship with the Olympic rings symbol has spoken to worldwide unity from the very beginning. At those 1920 Olympics when the rings debuted, the United States flag bearer was Ireland-born track and field athlete Pat McDonald — the U.S.'s first foreign-born representative.

Celebrating global unity might have seemed like an impossible task after an event as dire as a world war, but Coubertin's work inspired people to do just that.

With one man's passion as the seed, a logo bloomed into more than just a logo. Now, the Olympic rings adorn a flag to signal a time for peace, for sportsmanship, and for breaking barriers between us by recognizing what unites us.

At the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Games, the rings will appear on Team USA's new heated parkas as we once again witness nations gathering from around the world.

It's no wonder that this symbol continues to bring us together. The Olympic rings have always carried hope for a more harmonious world, and they'll continue to do so in our future.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

via Pixabay

Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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