April 22, 1970
The First Earth Day
We only have one earth, so we need to take care of her. That’s what Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin believed. He was disturbed that an issue as important as our environment was not addressed in politics or by the media, so he created the first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970. An estimated 20 million people nationwide attended festivities that day. It was a truly astonishing grassroots explosion, leading eventually to national legislation such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Why did Earth Day receive so much support?
How do you observe Veterans Day? Do you go to a parade? Listen to a speech? Take flowers to a cemetery? People do all these things to commemorate this special holiday, which has been observed since 1918, though it had a different name and a slightly different meaning back then.
It was on November 11, 1918, that Allied powers signed a cease-fire agreement, an armistice with Germany at Rethondes, France, ending World War I. Not only does the U.S. observe this day. Great Britain and France continued to recognize Armistice Day every year until World War II, when, once again, it was no time to be celebrating peace.
Native American people, for example, the Iroquois, have long recognized and celebrated in story and song the interdependence of the earth and all its creatures. For the 20th anniversary of Earth Day in 1990, they were joined by more than 200 million people in 141 countries participating in celebrations of the planet that supports us. How do you show your appreciation of Mother Earth? Ask your friends and family how they celebrate Earth Day.