Earth Day History, 1970
March 21st -- Vernal Equinox
Earth Day - a day to celebrate the natural wonders of our planet, "to think about
Earth's tender seedlings of life" was first proposed by John McConnell in early
October 1969 to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and other community leaders
interested in caring for and improving our natural environment. On November 25,
1969, the final day of the UNESCO National Conference, "Man, and His
Environment," Cynthia Wayburn, one of the youth leaders on Mr. McConnell's Earth Day
Committee, presented the idea and showed the Earth Flag during this presentation at the
luncheon. Many expressed support for the idea.
DATE OF EARTH DAY
From the beginning the proposal called for observance of Earth Day on March 21st, which is
the Vernal Equinox. This is the moment when night and day are equal throughout the Earth
-- reminding us of Earth's systems of balance which humanity has partially upset and needs
to restore. From earliest history, people of many cultures have celebrated this day as the
beginning of spring - symbolizing renewal of life. Three thousand years ago men built
Stonehenge with stones arranged to measure the very moment of the Vernal Equinox.
In 1970, Americans took part in the first Earth Day, the largest grass roots demonstration
in history. Over twenty million people attended marches, rallies, teach-ins, and concerts
in the parks which took place in communities and college campuses across the country.
Together, they pledged to attack pollution and clean up the environment.
From this awareness about our responsibilities for the Earth came clean air and clean
water legislation, endangered species and land preservation acts, and the birth of federal
and state agencies with the responsibility for regulating and controlling pollution.
Significant progress has been made since that first Earth Day, but we know that back then
we had only begun to understand the problems. Today, we are coming to grips with the more
complicated products of our society and lifestyles such as acid rain, smog, global
warming, toxic waste and ground water contamination. It is clear that we must think in
terms of individual actions and partnerships to prevent pollution, reduce waste and
Earth Day on Your Block