Everyone has heard of Earth Day, but did you know there are two Earth Days each year – one in March, and one in April?
On March 21, 1970, the original Earth Day rally took place. John McConnell, who was a well-known peace activist and environmental crusader, may have beaten everyone else to get an official event off the ground – but he is not known as the originator of Earth Day. That honor goes to Senator Gaylord Nelson.
Since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring had been published in 1962, they was a growing awareness and groundswell, insisting on legislative action in regard to environmental concerns. In 1969, after seeing the devastating effect of a California oil spill, Senator Nelson announced and organized an educational “Teach-In” to take place on April 22nd of the following year. This event was intended to gather support for legislation; and Nelson asked a couple of friends, Congressman Pete McCloskey and activist Denis Hayes, to spread the grassroots idea across campuses coast to coast.
McConnell, meanwhile, also consumed with the idea of setting aside a day to fight for the planet, thought that the spring or vernal equinox – the first day of Spring – was the most appropriate day to celebrate. The mayor of San Francisco agreed with his reasoning. A month before the Nelson event, on March 21, 1970, the first observance took place in Northern California. McConnell would later admit that Nelson phoned him to ask to try to consolidate efforts, but McConnell declined. In June of 1970, the UN sanctioned the spring equinox as “International Earth Day”.
Still, it was Nelson’s April 22 nationwide rallies that motivated citizens to action; an estimated 20 million people participated, gaining the attention of the government. The legislation was quickly introduced; and within months, the Environmental Protection Agency was instituted. The vast majority of Earth Day activities, in Houston and across America, occur during April’s “Earth Week”, the days surrounding April 22 each year.
At Breen’s Florist, we appreciate all the benefits that green plants and flowers bring to our lives every day; so in a way, every day is Earth Day. But this March and April, how about buying a few more plants to surround you in honor of the Earth? Give us a call today.