Earth Day, 1990. I was a Senior in high school and my parents were still hippies. This means we got up VERY early and drove in our 1970-something 15 passenger Dodge van (which we affectionately called "The Dode" because the 'g' was missing across the hood) from our home in south Jersey to be first in line on the lawn of the Capitol building in Washington DC. All eleven of us. Plus my boyfriend, Ron. That's twelve. On quilts, right in front of the stage. We were vegetarian (you'd better believe it!), we were shaggy, we recycled, and my mom brought her knitting. Perfect.
I think there was a crowd that day of 600,000 earth-friendly souls. The mass of people stretched beyond the Washington Memorial. I remember this part because right after this was announced, four year-old Jonah had to go to the bathroom. Of course. Dad picked him up and stepping through a seated crowd "excuse me, pardon me'ed" his way through to the porta-potties. He came back an hour later saying that was the "worst experience of his life". But there was a power in that crowd, and it has forever left an impression on me.
We were entertained by Olivia Newton John, Natalie Merchant, John Cougar Mellencamp, R.E.M., Richard Gere, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Cookie Monster, Kevin Bacon, and the beloved John Denver. We all sang along, we all got sunburned and blistered, and we all felt like we were part of something big. Which we are.
I still celebrate Earth Day every year. I have tried to take the lessons learned from my youth and add to them to be a more responsible, conscientious steward of this beautiful Mother we call home. Yesterday, we watched the entire mini-series Planet Earth on the Discovery Channel, and I felt even more humbled and in awe. We have much to do. I hope to pass that on to my children. Let every day be Earth Day.