Where are you from? Where did you grow up? Earth! Since forever it is our home and today, April 22, happens to be ‘Earth Day’. The day is celebrated around the world in order to increase awareness among people in terms of environment safety and to spread environmental protection measures. The day was first celebrated in 1970, today it is being celebrated in 193 countries and is being coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.
First Earth Day
The first Earth Day was celebrated across United States on March 21, 1970, the vernal equinox that year. In 1969’s UNESCO conference John McConnell, a newspaper published and influential community activist, came up with the idea of a global holiday called ‘Earth Day’. He suggested the vernal equinox as it is the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere and the first day of autumn in the Southern hemisphere. He believed that people should come together and keep aside the differences and work together to preserve Earth’s resources.
The March date was announced as the official International Earth Day on February 26, 1971 after UN Secretary-General U Thant signed a proclamation that stated the annual celebration of Earth Day on the vernal equinox. In the statement, U Thant said, “May there only be peaceful and cheerful Earth Days to come for our beautiful Spaceship Earth as it continues to spin and circle in frigid space with its warm and fragile cargo of animate life.” And since then the UN celebrates the day by ringing peacebell at the UN headquarters in New York.
Celebration on April 22
On April 22, 1970, US Senator Gaylord Nelson organised an event with an aim to prove other US politicians that people can come together for a political agenda that aimed on environmental issues. Nelson started organising the event every year and soon people started giving it a good response. Later, John Gardner, the founder of Common Cause donated his office space for the activity. The event was a huge success with people across the United States organising celebration at schools, colleges, universities and offices.
Impact of Earth Day
With the success of Earth Day on April 22, inspired by Nelson, several environmental laws were passed inluding Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act and also the establishment of The Environmental Protection Agency.
In 1995, Gaylord Nelson was felicitated with the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton for his contribution in raising environmental issues, promoting conservation of environment and the most important for founding the ‘Earth Day’.