Has it really been 39 years since we first celebrated Earth Day?
I am proud to say that I was among the many Americans who participated in the first demonstration.
On April 22 1970 we gathered in Washington D.C. in support of this National Day of Observance of Environmental Problems. Of course, even in this peaceful demonstration we all received criticism for our ideals and concerns. Much like the debate over Global Warming today, Earth Day was seen as a bunch of hippie “tree huggers” gathered to smoke pot and party. Nothing could have been further from the truth or the facts.
Approximately 20 million Americans participated, with a goal of a healthy, sustainable environment. Earth Day 1970 was held coast-to-coast with massive rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
In just two short years….by 1972 Earth Day had become a world wide effort to recognize that the need to improve our environment was a real and valid concern.
U.N. Secretary General Waldheim observed Earth Day with similar ceremonies on the March equinox in 1972, and the United Nations Earth Day ceremony has continued each year since on the day of the March equinox (the United Nations also works with organizers of the April 22nd global event). Margaret Mead added her support for the equinox Earth Day, and in 1978 declared:
"EARTH DAY is the first holy day which transcends all national borders, yet preserves all geographical integrities, spans mountains and oceans and time belts, and yet brings people all over the world into one resonating accord, is devoted to the preservation of the harmony in nature and yet draws upon the triumphs of technology, the measurement of time, and instantaneous communication through space.”
At the moment of the equinox, it is traditional to observe Earth Day by ringing the Japanese Peace Bell, a bell donated by Japan to the United Nations. Over the years celebrations have occurred in various places worldwide at the same time as the celebration at the UN.
In 1991 while Program Director of WBOS-FM in Boston and in tandem with Adam Klein (a remarkable Promotions and Marketing director) we sought to bring together Bostonian's to celebrate a Earth Day. Together with the City of Boston we created the Earth Day Concert and Festival held on the Esplanade in Boston.
This would be a FULL DAY celebration of our planet with hundreds of environmental exhibits and FREE music from artists such as Ritchie Havens, Arlo Guthrie, Marc Cohn, Roger McGuinn and so many, many others.
The day was blessed by a wonderful Native American Indian Chief who prayed for sunshine and fresh air. Local and National members of Congress and Senate would speak, as did many wonderful celebrities. The first concert in 1991…gathered between 25 and 50 thousand concerned citizens.
The Earth Day Concert and Festival became an annual event and by 1995….with sun shinning and the air clean more than 150 thousand would attend this peaceful celebration of the Earth.
Sadly, WBOS-FM was purchased by Greater Media in the late 1990’s who’s brilliant leadership decided that the sincere efforts to bring together Bostonian's to celebrate the Earth should become a commercial venture. The President of Greater Media called me a typical “Tree Hugger”. I was so PROUD TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED as a TREE HUGGER by such a pompous ass and was relieved to no longer work this bumbling idiot.
Greater Media renamed the event WBOS Earth Fest. Of course, the music continued to be free and the crowds continued to come…..but the message was muddied among the commercialism.
Today as we observe Earth Day we can be proud of the international grassroots activism linked through the Internet, the over 5,000 environmental groups and the hundreds of millions of people in a record 184 countries and coordinated by the nonprofit Earth Day Network, according to whom Earth Day is now "the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a half billion people aka TREE HUGERS every year."
Happy Earth Day!
Inside Studio A………I’m James Herron
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