Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Whether you are Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, sloppy or neat, pessimist or optimist, you can join hands with the person next to you and celebrate today. 

Earth Day, celebrated each year on April 22, is the world’s “newest holiday.”  Long ago - way back in 1970, Earth Day was started by two politicians who wanted to stage a “moment of silence” after an oil spill off the coast of California.  It has become quite a controversial day (mainly because of the  politics attached to it)  but, when we examine it for what it is, we can see that it’s a simple and peaceful day – for reflection of how we treat the host planet on which we all live.

Earth Day 1970 was the unusual brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, a United States Senator from Wisconsin.  He decided to capitalize on the “emerging consciousness” of people with growing environmental concerns, after witnessing first-hand the  massive oil spill that happened the year before in Santa Barbara, California. In January of 1969, a Union Oil platform spilled sixteen thousand cubic meters of oil into the Santa Barbara channel, an estimated 3,500 sea birds were killed, to say nothing of the dolphins, elephant seals, and sea lions. Oil washed up on Santa Barbara beaches and citizens were outraged; legislation was passed to prevent such a spill from happening again. 

As with any tragedy, good sprang from the disaster.  Senator Nelson, a staunch Democrat, used the example of protests taking place at the time to stage a “national teach-in on the environment.” He alerted the media and invited his friend, Congressman Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican, to join him.  They later recruited Denis Hayes to serve as a national coordinator to build a staff to make the event completely legit.

In rare bi-partisan agreement, the United States came together to agree that our world should be taken care of.  Legislation began for clean air and water; recycling was openly encouraged.  Within ten years, Earth Day became a World Celebration where all people took time to reflect how we could make our world better.

Regardless of politics, beliefs, and desires for the future, today is a day where we can have agreement to be good stewards of this place.  Earth Day should not be controversial; it should be enjoyed and make us think.  Do one thing for our planet today – you decide what that thing is. 

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