Earth Day, as an annual recognition of our responsibility to our planet, is an important event that takes place every year all over the world in approximately 200 countries. Compared with most holidays that take place every year, Earth Day is relatively new on the scene. The awareness of the need to protect Earth’s resources and climates and to promote peace has grown exponentially in recent years. In the past, resources such as trees, water, the very air we breathe, nature’s habitats and ecosystems, etc. have been taken for granted by many. As societies and ways of life have changed, modernizing, the explosive growth of cities combined with the social and environmental effects of war, pollution, and the eroding away of natural habitats, have led to this awakening that not only is our planet headed towards trouble, but that it is our fault and it is our duty to do everything possible to effect positive change for ourselves and for future generations.
In 1969, there was a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) conference in San Francisco. UNESCO is a specialized branch of the United Nations that began in 1945, formed literally a month and a half after the end of World War II. The effect of such a widespread and devastating war did make a huge impact in people’s minds about what peace means, and the decades following reflect that. Especially by the time the sixties and seventies rolled around, mindsets all over the world were completely different from how they had been twenty years previously. In 1969, at the conference, John McConnell, a peace activist, spoke to the group, proposing the idea for Earth Day. McConnell wanted to honor our planet and to take a strong stance with the holiday concerning peace.
The proposal was well-received and Earth Day has grown and evolved with each passing year. I think that the importance of Earth Day rivals national holidays especially treasured by our society, such as Thanksgiving. In addition to everything Earth Day encompasses, I am particularly grateful to its impact upon schools. Children, every year, learn about our planet, about sustainability, about peace and responsibility. They are the future, and with the awareness Earth Day promotes, they have this opportunity to learn the right lessons. I wish more recognized holidays were like it.