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MCLB Albany prepares Earth Day activities

By Mr. Nathan L. Hanks Jr. | | April 12, 2007

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April 22 will commemorate the 37th anniversary of Earth Day.

Earth Day was organized to promote environmental awareness and highlight growing concerns over pollution of the soil, air and water.

“This day is designated to have people stop and think of what their impact on the environment is, and if it is a negative impact, find a way to correct the negative,” said Greg Kader, environmental protection specialist, Installation and Environmental Division, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.  “Every generation needs to have a commitment to be good stewards of the environment.”

MCLB Albany will observe the event through education and planting of flowers.

The Environmental Branch will set up an Earth Day table display with free educational material Monday – April 23 inside the Marine Corps Exchange.  The material will consist of pens, pencils, crayons and coloring books.

Also, during the next couple of weeks, children attending the Child Development Center will be planting donated flowers in observance of Earth Day.

“The teachers teach the children how to plant flowers, what makes them grow and what they do for the environment,” said Billie Lewis, director, CDC.  “We need to teach the children while they are young to take care and protect the environment so they can appreciate it when they get older.”

Recognizing Earth Day’s importance, Col. C.N. Haliday, base commanding officer, signed a proclamation emphasizing its significance.

“This is a day for each of us to reflect on our unique southwest Georgia environment and the precious global natural resource entrusted to us and to commit ourselves to working as a base, and as individual, to keep our environment clean and healthy,” Haliday wrote in the proclamation. 

He said the local community, state and federal regulators closely observe MCLB Albany’s activities and how they impact the environment.  

“Through a proactive and comprehensive environmental program of compliance, pollution prevention, conservation, education, public outreach and a base-wide Environment Management System, we are demonstrating our commitment to being good stewards of the environment,” said Haliday.

Haliday also said he would like to challenge the Marines, Sailors and Civilian-Marines aboard the base with this question: “What am I doing, both at work and at home, to protect the environment that we are so fortunate to have and how am I preserving it for future generations?”

The environment has not always been a topic of conversation like it is today.

“For several years, it had been troubling me that the state of our environment was simply a non-issue in the politics of the country,” said Gaylord Nelson, former senator for Wisconsin and founder of Earth Day

In November 1962, Nelson came up with a way to put the environment into the political “limelight” once and for all. His idea was to persuade President John F. Kennedy to go on a national conservation tour, according to the U.S. government’s Earth Day Web site www.earthday.gov.

Nelson flew to Washington to discuss the proposal with Attorney General Robert Kennedy and the President. After presenting his idea, the President began a five-day, eleven-state conservation tour in September 1963. However, for many reasons, the tour did not succeed in putting the issue onto the national political agenda. 

It was six years later, while on a conservation speaking tour out West in the summer of 1969, that the idea of Earth Day occurred to him. It was during the time “teach-ins” had spread to college campuses across the nation that caused him to organize a demonstration over what was happening to the environment.

“I was satisfied that if we could tap into the environmental concerns of the general public and infuse the student anti-war energy into the environmental cause, we could generate a demonstration that would force this issue onto the political agenda. It was a big gamble, but worth a try,” he said. 

At a conference in Seattle, in September 1969, he announced that in the spring of 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment and invited everyone to participate. 

On April 22, 1970, Nelson led a nationwide environmental demonstration of more than 20 million people.  Today, Earth Day is not only celebrated in America but around the globe. Earth Day is now observed in 140 nations with outdoor performances, exhibits, street fairs, and television programs that focus on environmental issues. 

This year, the issue of global warming has captured worldwide attention. 

“This is the most exciting year for Earth Day since it began 38 years ago because even with all the activism and focus back then and all that Earth Day 1970 accomplished, it was still U.S. focused,” said Kathleen Rogers, president, Earth Day Network. “Now, in 2007, Earth Day is well established internationally and people around the world are focused on the impact of climate change and finding solutions.”

The Earth Day movement has ensured that environmental concerns are integrated into the political process.  Nelson’s Earth Day has played a significant role in the passage of major environmental legislation to include the Environmental Policy Act (1969), the Clean Air Act (1970), the Clean Water Act (1977) and fuel efficiency standards for automobiles. 

For more information on Earth Day visit www.earthday.gov and http://earthday.envirolink.org/history.
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