"Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures." Gaylord Nelson
Today is Earth Day, the above noted “goal” of then Senator Gaylord Nelson who envisioned that all Americans – and perhaps all peoples of the Earth – would come together to protect the earth, air and water that we all need to survive.
I was just out of college when I was assigned to report on the first Earth Day in 1970. My editor was skeptical that anything might happen, but it soon became clear that even in our small community people, especially young people, were organizing dozens and dozens of projects and I was on the front line reporting about them.
In 1990, I was able to bring Senator Nelson as a guest speaker on Earth Day to the college campus where I was working as Director of Public Relations. He spoke eloquently and passionately about why we must continue to not only carry it forward but expand upon it each and every year.
“Earth Day achieved what I had hoped for and then some,” he told the students. “The purpose of Earth Day was to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy and, finally, force this issue permanently into the political arena.
“It was truly an astonishing grassroots explosion. For the first time people were given the opportunity to demonstrate their deep concern about what was happening in their own communities and across the nation – polluted air, rivers, lakes and oceans; health threatening hazardous wastes; urban blight; pesticide and herbicide poisoning of people, plants, birds and animals; the destruction of scenic beauty and wildlife habitats. All of this swirling around them and the politicians didn't seem to know, understand or care. But the people cared and Earth Day became the first opportunity they ever had to join in a nationwide demonstration to send a big message to the politicians – a message to tell them to wake up and do something.”
If ever there was a Writer’s Moment, it was the first Earth Day. It has remained so ever since.
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