Editor: Marianne Lincoln
50 years ago today in the United States, we held the very first Earth Day. I was 13 years old and in 7th grade at Bethel Junior High.
We cleaned up landscaping and planted flowers. We drew pictures of Earth and other planetary art work. We heard the new movement of environmentalists talking about Saving Our Planet! There were slogans, buttons and bumper stickers reminding us, this is the only planet we have.
It was during the Nixon Administration, this wave of environmental concern blossomed. The Great Lakes were so polluted that the Cuyahoga River caught fire! Our military was spraying the defoliant, Agent Orange in Southeast Asia, something that years later caused a friend of mine (and many others) an early death. Industries were spewing millions of gallons of waste into our waterways causing massive de-oxygenation. Fish and fowl were dying by the millions. DDT was still being used (banned in the USA in 1972). Eagles, the symbol of our country, were an extremely rare sight. Smog in the big cities was thick and choking, truly clear days were rare. There was a major oil spill in Santa Barbara.
Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin recruited Rep. Dennis Hayes and they started a public awareness campaign. The story is here. And the first Earth Day was born.
Please do something today – or this week – to make your corner of our planet a bit better.