Message from the President
by
THOMAS C. DOWD

The Earth is huge, but we owe it to all humankind to make the concept of the care of Earth be understandable to most people. Earth Day brings the complexities of peace, justice and the care of Earth within our grasp. That is the power of symbols in our world. Our co-founder, John McConnell, and his main supporter, the world renowned anthropologist, Margaret Mead, suggested symbols to unify the world and focus attention on our fragile environment.

President Thomas C. Dowd

The Earth Flag is a perfect example of a symbol that has become a call to action, but remains a peaceful, unifying, inspirational symbol. The original Earth Flag created by John McConnell in 1969 was derived from the first picture ever taken by an astronaut of the whole Earth, without national boundaries. John McConnell’s genius in identifying this symbol for all of us was a great achievement of the last century. The flag has flown all over the world, is painted on the sides of buildings, and has become a rallying point for our organization.

Symbols are explosive and hard to control. John McConnell, the 90-year old founder of Earth Day, gave us the Earth Flag, the Earth Charter, the Earth Trustee Program, the Earth Magna Charta, the “Star of Hope,” and “Minute for Peace.” He even initiated the concept of ringing the Peace Bell at a special ceremony at UN Headquarters on the first moment of the spring equinox (March 20-21), and, of course, even the very idea of Earth Day which marks the precise moment that spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn begins in the Southern Hemisphere.

People have gathered around these symbols and made good use of them. A few people have tried to exploit the symbols for their own benefit or profit. Although the first Earth Day took place in the City of San Francisco on March 21, 1970, Earth Day is often celebrated in April or just any day. Both John McConnell and Margaret Mead wanted Earth Day to be a global symbol to be celebrated at the moment when the amount of light and the amount of darkness on Earth are equal, and considered it the “first international holiday.”

The Earth Society Foundation is a small group of dedicated people who wish to use the symbols of our organization in the way proposed by our founding leaders. Here are a few things we have done:

· For 35 consecutive years, we have rung the Peace Bell at UN Headquarters in New York City at the exact moment of the equinox. This has led to bells ringing around the world in unison with that symbol. On March 20, 2006, the Peace Bell will ring at UN Headquarters to mark the 36th anniversary of Earth Day on the March equinox (1:26 pm EST).

· The Earth Society Foundation organized a special ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York City on June 8, 2004 marking the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations Peace Bell. The Peace Bell was presented to the United Nations a half century ago by the United Nations Association of Japan, as a symbol of peace and goodwill. The ESF also organized the ceremony 40th Anniversary of the UN Peace Bell, in cooperation with the UN.

· Earth Flags fly in homes and classrooms around the world. A dedicated environmentalist, Christopher Swain, swam the entire length of the Hudson River to draw importance to clean water. He used the Earth Flag to help draw attention to his mission. (For more information about the Earth Flag, write to: , and see Earth Flag.)

What can you do? Be aware that you can think globally and also act locally. Join us in our work at the United Nations by becoming a member of the Earth Society Foundation. (For more information about membership, write to: , and see Earth Society Foundation membership.) Ask your leaders about climate change and actions that help or hurt the people of the Earth in the name of progress. Pray for peace, justice, and the care of Earth.