Europe's First Peace Bell Rung by Founder of Earth Day
at United Nations Ceremony, Vienna, Austria

Earth Day Founder's Message
March 20, 1996

John McConnell, The Man Who Started Earth Day:


It's really a great pleasure and a privilege to be here on this special occasion inaugurating the Peace Bell Ceremony on Earth Day here in Europe. This is just twenty five years after we had United Nations Secretary General U Thant ring the Peace bell in New York.

The idea of Earth Day was to have one global holiday that could be shared by the whole human family. We have diverse cultures and creeds, but we only have one Earth. And we're one human family.

We know today, from the latest that our scientists tell us, that if we could come together and act as responsible trustees of Earth we can eliminate poverty and pollution all over the globe. In time, we can make our planet a garden of Eden.

So the purpose of Earth Day is to make people feel the importance of being Trustees of Earth. Just this week I read in the New York Times where the people of the United States in the presidential election are looking for a new agenda that all can approve.

I want to say today, we now have that agenda.

We are asking every individual and institution to think and act as Trustees of Earth. That means in ecology, economics and ethics we're making the choices that will provide a sustainable future.

We know that we are approaching a new millennium. All kinds of grand plans are being made. If on the next Earth Day and the following Earth Day we get global participation in this one holiday of nature, I believe that we will enter the new millennium with light at the end of the tunnel, with a new future that will inspire.

What is important today is how each person who hears this message shares this experience, how much we make a heartfelt commitment. We have so much hypocrisy; so many efforts that are inadequate.

But we can make a heartfelt commitment to think and act as Trustees of Earth -- that means every one of us will find some special Earth care project, whether its planting trees, using clean energy, or in business looking for ways that will provide justice in economics.

We know that part of the frustration, the fear and the anger that we see around the world is because too many people do not have a fair shake. We have an amazing planet. We have enough raw materials and natural resources that if everybody could get their inheritance in the natural planet we would eliminate poverty.

We have a chance to bring this new agenda into being.

Now I see we are approaching the hour, the moment when I ring the Peace Bell. I would like to mention that it was the Star of Hope Satellite, way back in 1957, that headed me toward Earth Day. I was very much interested in space and my proposal for a bright visible Star of Hope Satellite, published in my weekly newspaper, brought attention from all over the world.

I want you to know that right now, as we are preparing to ring the Peace Bell, the astronauts and cosmonauts in the Mir Space Station are witnessing an amazing spectacle: the Sun is setting at the South Pole and rising at the North Pole. On this day at noon on the Equator you will cast no shadow. This is now Earth Day, the March Equinox, nature's ancient symbol of balance and renewal.

As I step to the bell I invite everyone to join, each in your own way, in a heartfelt commitment to think and act as a Trustee of Earth. And that tomorrow you will have inspiration to continue every day all through the year. And we will see a new millennium of hope for people and planet.

Remarks of John McConnell After Peace Bell Ceremony

We hope you will share the experience you have had here. When this event is covered worldwide by radio, TV, and on the Internet, that moment the world will turn right side up. Then people everywhere will share the experience that you have had here.

I again urge everyone to think about this through the day. Tonight when you go to bed and tomorrow when you wake up make a real heartfelt decision, now what can I do? There is something every one can do. As we link up with others and start reporting on the Internet what we are doing Earth Trustee vision and action will spread around the world. If we can give as much effort to what I'm talking about as we did in World War II - but this time instead of killing people we will be destroying poverty and pollution - what a great future our planet will have!

We must not despair. We must go forward with great hope, great faith and great love. I love the prayer of Saint Francis, where he said, "Make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon." As we go back to that again and again with a sincere dedication to think and act as Trustees of Earth, each one of our lives will be better. We have an agenda that can win the support of the majority of people all over the world. So let's make it happen.

Thank you everyone.

John McConnell
Earth Trustees, Inc.
4924 E. Kentucky Circle
Denver, CO 80246

Phone: 303-758-7687

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June 6, 2005