50 Years of Earth Day
As we face tremendous challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on this 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, we’re reminded that we’re all connected, and that we all play an important role in helping to keep our air, our land and our water free of pollution and address climate change.
I remember the first Earth Day in 1970. We were fighting a different kind of war back then. I was a young naval flight officer stationed in the San Francisco Bay Area and preparing for my first of three tours of duty in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. It was a time when the Cuyahoga River had become a river of fire flowing through Cleveland, Ohio. Factories spewed toxic fumes and industries polluted our air and water with impunity. In response, millions of people came together one April day and made a commitment to fight for the health of our planet and our shared environment.
In the decades that followed, our nation enacted the bedrock environmental laws and protections that all of us here in America still rely on today – from the National Environmental Policy Act, to the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Every year since then, on April 22, the entire world has come together to celebrate our planet. While we’ve made great improvements in our stewardship of this planet of ours over the past 50 years, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to ensure clean air and water for everyone.
Today, most of us are answering a different call of duty by remaining safely in our homes. Amid this pandemic, however, many of us have sought and found opportunities to more frequently appreciate this Earth of ours in all of its glory on solitary walks, on bicycle rides and on visits to one of America’s thousands of parks.
Although we cannot honor this day as we might normally do, with organized group events and other stewardship activities, we can still do our part to promote Earth Day safely from our homes by staying virtually connected. I invite you to share the story of your favorite Earth Day over the years, or tell me what you’re doing today to make the 50th Earth Day a special one. Please share your Earth Day story with me on Twitter or on Facebook.
I hope you will be able to join my family and me in honoring Earth Day 2020 to promote a safer and more sustainable planet. While we still have a lot of work ahead of us, I am confident we can reach the goal of clean air and clean water for everyone if we are guided by science and by our faith, if we refuse to give up and if we work together. If we can do that, we can overcome this global pandemic and also ensure the future of our planet. Our children’s future and our grandchildren’s future depend on it.
Stay safe and healthy,