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Earth Day - 44 years later, stronger than ever

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Tomorrow is the 44th anniversary of Earth Day and the start of the modern day environmental movement. Reflecting back to the early days of 1970 found us entangled in the Vietnam War, protesters marching on campuses across the country, and kids were lashing out at authority.
The first Earth Day was more of an awakening than anything else. In 1969 for example, we were awestruck to see the beauty of the earth in pictures from the moon. And we started to realize that there wasn’t anywhere else to go. We wanted to turn things around and make the planet a better place to live.
Earth Day evolved slowly over a seven-year period-of-time starting in 1962. The founder of Earth Day was Senator Gaylord Nelson who found the lack of political interest in environmental issues quite disturbing.
He was able to persuade President Kennedy, who liked the idea, to go on a national conservation tour. President Kennedy did go on a five-day, eleven-state conservation tour in September 1963.
While the tour failed to put conservation on the political agenda, it was the basic idea that eventually started Earth Day in 1970.
Senator Nelson announced, in September 1969, a nationwide, grassroots demonstration involving the environment. Earth Day pretty much organized itself. Senator Nelson wanted Earth Day to fall after spring break and before finals.
He didn’t have the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators, schools and communities across the nation. It was amazing how people came together to help people understand the need for conservation.
That first Earth Day wasn’t so much a response to any crisis, but more of an awakening of our position in the scheme of things.
Denis Hayes and his organization took the Earth Day movement overseas in 1990. They were able to organize events in 141 nations. the non-profit Earth Day organization now coordinates Earth Day around the world.
The U.N., in 2009, declared April 22 International Mother Earth Day.



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