In 1957, John McConnell launched his lifelong effort for peace and justice, by proposing the Star of Hope satellite with a blinking light to be seen by every person on Earth, to promote peaceful cooperation in Space. He distributed this idea at the 1958 Atoms for Peace Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

In 1963, John started working on "Minute for Peace" -- a proposal for individuals all over the world to join their thoughts and prayers for peace at the same time -- 1900 GMT. The first Minute for Peace was held on December 22, 1963, one month after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and included broadcasts all over the world.

John McConnell
In 1969, John designed the Earth Flag after seeing the Life Magazine photo of Earth taken from outer Space. He formed WE Inc. (World Equality, Inc.) in 1969 . The Earth Flag was trademarked and copyrighted under WE, Inc.

Also in 1969, John was working on his idea of "a day for the people of Earth" -- an Earth Day where people all over the world would consider how they could work together for peace, justice and the care of Earth. He proposed Earth Day in September 1969 to Peter Tamaras, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, San Francisco, California. He proposed Earth Day for the Spring Equinox, which has meaning in cultures all over the world. The idea was accepted by the city of San Francisco.

The first Earth Day was held March 21, 1970 in San Francisco and other cities. In June 1970, John wrote an Earth Day Proclamation that has been signed by 36 dignitaries and statesmen from around the world.

On March 20, 1971, Earth Day was celebrated at the United Nations in New York City. United Nations Secretary-General U Thant addressed the gathering.

United Nations Secretary-General U Thant, Earth Day, March, 1971. "May there only be peaceful and cheerful Earth Days to come for our beautiful spaceship Earth as it continues to spin and circle in frigid space with the warm and fragile cargo of animate life."

Aye Aye Thant, daughter of UN Secretary U Thant, and President of the U Thant Institute, on the right, was invited to ring the UN Peace Bell on March 20, 2005, along with Ambassador Donald MacKay, Permanent Mission of New Zealand to the United Nations on the left, and the Acting President of the UN General Assembly Ambassador H. E. Edwards J. Sevilla Somoza, Permanent Mission of Nicaragua to the United Nations, in the center.
Photo: Ann Charles
In June 1973, while attending a UN Conference on the Environment in Geneva, Switzerland, John decided to form a new organization, called Earth Society. The first meeting of the Earth Society was held on the lawn of the United Nations in front of the Globe in Geneva, Switzerland. Various people attended, including the head of the Red Cross .

Upon his return to the United States, John incorporated the Earth Society, which became legally the Earth Society, Inc. The members of the Board were John McConnell, Frank Braynard (the founder of Op-Sail), and Capt. Anthony Keasby (who made the first recording of the Humpback Whale).

The Earth Society became The Earth Society Foundation, Inc. in December of 1976. John McConnell, Frank Braynard, and Anthony Keasby were on the papers of incorporation. In September 1976, Margaret Mead sent a letter to John McConnell saying she would be happy to join the Board of The Earth Society Foundation, Inc. Her support in starting The Earth Society Foundation is deeply appreciated.

World renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead, International Chairman of Earth Day,
rang the Peace Bell at UN Headuarters as part of the ceremony observing "Earth Day"
on March 20, 1978. Mr. Genichi Akatani, Under-Secretary-General for Public Information,
addressed the gathering during the ceremony.

Photo: Ann Charles