Back to Nature (Published on - April 19, 2007)
Earth Day beginnings
Photo by Rick Tremmel
As the sun rises on Boca Ciega Millennium Park, it reminds us to take time to honor our Earth.
Spring Equinox 2007 was on March 20, 2007, at 8:07 p.m. EDT. On this day there is an equal amount of light and darkness because the sun crosses the celestial equator at two points on opposite sides of the celestial sphere.

The spring equinox was appropriately designated as Earth Day and was first celebrated on March 21, 1970. Senator Gaylord Nelson is the Father and Founder of Earth Day. The objective of the first Earth Day was to spark a revolution against environmental abuse and the organizers and so it did.

Twenty million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. Even as a young boy, Nelson held a deep concern for the environment. He brought his concerns to President John F. Kennedy in 1962. After considering the issues, Nelson came up with the idea of an official Earth Day.

He proposed it on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

“Suddenly, the idea occurred to me. Why not have a teach-in on the environment? That’s how the idea for Earth Day was born,” Nelson explains. “At a conference in Seattle in September 1969, I announced that in the spring of 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment and invited everyone to participate. The wire services carried the story from coast to coast. The response was electric. It took off like gangbusters. Telegrams, letters, and telephone inquiries poured in from all across the country. The American people finally had a forum to express its concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes, and air – and they did so with spectacular exuberance. For the next four months, two members of my Senate staff, Linda Billings and John Heritage, managed Earth Day affairs out of my Senate office.”

The original Earth Day Proclamation was written by John McConnell and signed on June 21, 1970 on the summer solstice by 36 prominent and dedicated world leaders and environmental activists.

“In 1990, the Earth Day movement of environmentalists globally mobilized more than 200 million people in 141 countries. Earth Day 1970 made it clear that we could summon the public support, the energy, and commitment to save our environment.” Nelson further explains, “And while the struggle is far from over, we have made substantial progress.” Senator Nelson continued his dedicated work of protecting wild places until his death in July 2005.


Although the United Nations continues to recognize Earth Day as the same day as Spring Equinox, other groups have claimed that the Earth Day be celebrated on Arbor Day, April 27. It seems that one reason for supporting the April 27 date is because the weather is nice and most U.S. children are not on spring break. This change of dates has proved to be confusing to the public resulting in a watering down of Earth Day being celebrated on two different days. John McConnell explains, “This (Spring Equinox) is nature’s day when light and darkness are equal length worldwide,” he said. “The symbolism of Earth Day, the equilibrium and balance of the equinox, encourages cooperation ... It’s simultaneous all over the world, at the moment the sun is crossing the equator.”

Looking on the bright side, consider two days offer the world an extra opportunity to celebrate our Earth or on further consideration, Earth Day could last one whole month. Perhaps the powers-that-be will consider designating the period of time between March 21 and April 27 as Earth Month. Pass it on, who knows whose ears will listen.

“So long as the human species inhabits the Earth, proper management of its resources will be the most fundamental issue we face. Our very survival will depend upon whether or not we are able to preserve, protect and defend our environment. We are not free to decide about whether or not our environment “matters.” It does matter, apart from any political exigencies. We disregard the needs of our ecosystem at our mortal peril. This is the great lesson of Earth Day. It must never be forgotten.” – Senator Gaylord Nelson

Whether March or April or March through to April let us celebrate and honor back to nature.

Karen can be reached at

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