Earth Day: origin and meaning

By Jillian Milam
April 21, 2005

Earth day is to be celebrated on April 22. Although it might not be the most popular holiday, the purpose and idea behind the special day holds much significance for all.

Beginning in 1962, Senator Gaylord Nelson started recognizing the problems that were evolving with our environment. He realized that environmental issues were not at all part of politics; however, he believed they should be and took action.

“Finally, in November 1962, an idea occurred to me that was, I thought, a virtual cinch to put the environment into the political ‘limelight’ once and for all,” Nelson wrote in an article published in the Oct. of 1993 issue in the “American Heritage” magazine. He wished to bring the matter to the surface, so as to publicize his proposal.

“The idea was to persuade President Kennedy to give visibility to this issue by going on a national conservation tour. I flew to Washington to discuss the proposal with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who liked the idea. So did the President,” Nelson wrote. Due to various reasons, the tour was not successful in regards to raising environmental issues to political standards. “However, it was the germ of the idea that ultimately flowered into Earth Day.”

According to Envirolink, an online environmental community, the first Earth Day in 1970 rallied over 20 million Americans from around the country and on college campuses to get involved in environmental “teach-ins.” For the 20th anniversary in 1990 more than 200 million people in 141 countries participated worldwide.

So how can you get involved and partake on Earth Day? A couple ideas include planting trees or getting a group of people to pick up trash. But remember, Earth Day can be celebrated every day by simple things, like not smoking, not using aerosol cans and remembering to recycle.

Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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Jillian Milam

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