John McConnell (peace activist)

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John McConnell
John McConnell Mar15 2008 cmm.jpg
McConnell in front of his home in Denver, Colorado, USA with the Earth Flag he designed
Born(1915-03-22)March 22, 1915
DiedOctober 20, 2012(2012-10-20) (aged 97)
Known forFounder of Earth Day

John McConnell (March 22, 1915 – October 20, 2012[1]) was the founder and creator of Earth Day,[2][3] and The Earth Society Foundation,[4][5] with a passion for peace, religion, and science throughout his life. He devoted his life to relieving human suffering and promoting the common good.[6][7][8]

Early years[edit]

John McConnell was born on March 22, 1915 in Davis City, Iowa. He was the son of a Pentecostal preacher[9] and traveling doctor.[6] His first interest in the Earth began in 1939 while partnering with Albert Nobell, a chemist, in the Nobell Research Laboratory in Los Angeles that built a factory for manufacture of plastic.[6] Realizing how much the manufacture of plastic polluted the Earth, his concern for ecology grew, notably during this time when concern for the environment was rare. Afterward, he was a lifetime believer in care of the environment, founded on his Christian passion for peace and love. Leading into World War II, he believed that love and prayer could be more powerful than bombs.[6]

On October 31, 1957, soon after the first Sputnik, John McConnell wrote an editorial entitled, "Make Our Satellite A Symbol Of Hope", calling for peaceful cooperation in the exploration of Space with a visible "Star of Hope" Satellite.[6] This led him to create a Star of Hope organization to foster International Cooperation in Space.[10]

Major actions and campaigns[edit]

Peace activism[edit]

In 1959 to pursue his dream of peace, John McConnell moved to California where he and his co-publisher, Erling Toness, founded the "Mountain View." Along with the "Mountain View", he organized a very successful campaign in San Francisco titled "Meals for Millions." This campaign in 1962 was held to feed thousands of Hong Kong refugees. In 1963, after the "Meals for Millions" campaign, McConnell worked on another campaign called "Minute for Peace". He worked on "Minute for Peace" for seven years after "Meals for Millions." He began his "Minute for Peace" campaign with a broadcast on December 22, 1963, ending the mourning period for President John F. Kennedy. On June 26, 1965, McConnell spoke at the National Education Association Convention in Madison Square Garden where the public came together for a "Minute for Peace."[citation needed]

Earth Day[edit]

McConnell's concern for the environment grew in the late 1950s and early 1970s. A Christian, he believed humans have an obligation to take care of the earth, and to share its resources equally, based on such passages as Psalm 115:16, "The earth has been given to the children of men."[11] He was moved when he saw the first picture of the Earth printed in Life magazine. Later that picture became the symbol on the Earth Day flag which he designed and created. The Earth Day Flag was featured in the "Whole Earth Catalogue" and has been used ever since, all around the world, to show support of efforts to help people and planet.[10] The Earth Day Flag is a symbol of Earth Day and is still part of the Earth Day Ceremony each year on the spring equinox at the United Nations.

In October 1969, at the National UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, McConnell proposed a global holiday to celebrate Earth's life and beauty and to advance peace. Along with the celebration of life on Earth, he intended Earth Day to alert earthlings about the need for preserving and renewing the threatened ecological balances upon which all life on Earth depends. The proposal won strong support and was followed by an Earth Day Proclamation by the City of San Francisco on March 1, 1970, Honor the Earth [1] and the very first celebration of Earth Day on March 21, 1970.[6] In June 1970, McConnell created the Earth Day Proclamation for worldwide use and awareness. The Earth Day Proclamation declared the principles and responsibilities the signers undertook to care for the Earth. It was signed by 36 world leaders, including UN Secretary General U Thant, Margaret Mead, John Gardner and others. The last signature by Mikhail Gorbachev was added in 2000.[6]

The spring equinox Earth Day is celebrated around the world in many cities with ringing of peace bells. Earth Day has been celebrated annually on the spring equinox for 43 years at the United Nations with ringing of the UN Peace Bell. The practice began in 1971 when UN Secretary General U Thant rang the UN Peace Bell and issued a proclamation declaring Earth Day on the equinox.[6] Ringing a Peace Bell has occurred in Vienna, Berlin, and elsewhere. A memorable event took place at the UN in Geneva in 2011, celebrating a Minute for Peace ringing the Japanese Shinagawa Peace Bell with the help of the Geneva Friendship Association and the Global Youth Foundation[12] directly after deep mourning about the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster 10 days before.

Beside the spring equinox for the Northern Hemisphere, the spring equinox for the Southern Hemisphere has also been observed. The International Day of Peace[13] is celebrated on the spring equinox of the Southern Hemisphere, consistent with the original intentions of John McConnell and others to promote world peace.

The Earth Society Foundation, Inc.

In June 1973, John decided to form a new organization "The Earth Society". He was attending a UN Conference on the Environment in Geneva, Switzerland. The first meeting of the organization was held at the United Nations in Geneva, and included the head of the Red Cross.[14]

When he returned to the United States, McConnell incorporated the new organization, which became legally "Earth Society, Inc."

The members of the Board were John McConnell, Frank Braynard, and Captain Anthony Keasby.

Dr. Margaret Mead, later joined the foundation in September 1976. Mead sent a letter to McConnell stating "she would be happy to join the Board of The Earth Society Foundation, Inc."[15] She was the International Chairman of Earth Day.[16]

The Earth Society, Inc. became The Earth Society Foundation, Inc. in December of 1976. [17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Megan Mitchell (October 28, 2012). "Vagabond youth led Earth Day founder John McConnell to life of peace". The Denver Post. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  2. ^ "John McConnell's Earth flag". Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  3. ^ "The Authentic Earth Flag - History". Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  4. ^ "Earth Society Foundation - History". Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  5. ^ "Earth Society Foundation - SourceWatch". Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "John McConnell autobiography". Archived from the original on October 17, 2014. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
  7. ^ "Vagabond youth led Earth Day founder John McConnell to life of peace". October 27, 2012. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  8. ^ R-C, by Jonni Hill, Special to the. "How did Earth Day really begin?". Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b "Bill McConnell autobiography". Retrieved October 28, 2012.
  11. ^ Sparks and Rogers. "John McConnell, Jr. and the Pentecostal Origins of Earth Day" (PDF). Assemblies of God Heritage. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 31, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  12. ^ "Seeds of Change - Heiner Benking's Blog -". March 21, 2011. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
  13. ^ "International Day of Peace, 21 September 2012". September 21, 2012. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
  14. ^ "Earth Society Foundation - History". Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  15. ^ "Earth Society Foundation - History". Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  16. ^ "Earth Society Foundation - History". Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  17. ^ "Earth Society Foundation - History". Retrieved October 23, 2019.

External links[edit]