The first Earth Day – April 22, 1970 – found me teaching high school history. With no other readable material available, Rachel Carson’s
became my classroom text. She was able to take dull scientific fact and translate it into lyric prose, and my students rallied to the cause.
is said to have been the genesis of the environmental movement. It entered the words “ecology,” “reverence for life” and “balance of nature” into our common language. It inspired a nation to proclaim “our fundamental right to a healthy environment.” It etched on our national consciousness Jean Rostand’s words: “The obligation to endure, gives us the right to know.” Once
was published, our planet would never be seen in the same light again. April 14, 1964 – six years before the first Earth Day – Rachel Carson, a young woman of 56 died of cancer. To many of us she was Joan of Arc, Mother Teresa and Lois Lane all rolled into one. For the young women of the 60s, Rachel Carson was our first hero. Her epic book focusing on the powerful and often adverse effect humans have on the natural world has never been out of print.
This Earth Day with our nation cloistered inside for another kind of “silent spring,” perhaps Rachel Carson’s words can help:
“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.”
“For there is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of birds; in the ebb and flow of the tides; in the folded bud ready for the spring. There is something infinitely healing in these repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”