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The founder of Earth Day, John McConnell, was honored in Kaunas, Lithuania on his 50th anniversary

President of the Supreme Council of Lithuania, Vytautas Landsbergis, is shown here speaking in the UN General Assembly on September 17,1991. Lithuania became a member of the United Nations in September, 1991. UN Photo/Milton Grant.

On March 18, 1992, President of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania, Vytautas Landsbergis stated, “Nature has provided us Spring Equinox, a global symbol of life’s renewal and a reminder of the delicate balance of nature, essential for our survival.”

In addition, he added, “on Earth Day”, the people of Lithuania will share in this global observance, with Estonia and Latvia, and the need to think globally and act locally on the environment.”

In 1992, the moment of the Vernal Equinox, the Earth Flag created by John McConnell, was raised in front of the Lithuanian Parliament and the rest is history. This year, Joanne Tawfilis of Art Miles Mural Project in San Diego wanted to honor John McConnell, the founder of Earth Day.

This year on March 20, Father Kestuitis of Vytautas Magnus Church in Kaunas, Lithuania rang the bell marking 50 years of Earth Day. Arrangements for the bell ringing at the church was organized by Izolda Geniusiene in cooperation with Father Kestutis.

According to Joanne Tawfilis of Art Miles Mural Project, “we wanted to honor John McConnell and pay tribute to the sunshine and John’s positive outlook on life.”  The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 by John McConnell. Mural by Joanne Tawfilis, Art Miles Mural Project.

According to Joanne, “John McConnell was included in a 50th anniversary mural honoring this remarkable man and his extraordinary achievements,” she says. “He created the sunshine and gave us hope. In addition, the founder of Earth Day, inspired us to keep our earth beautiful. The trees, animals, fish, and clear, blue skies celebrate our work on earth. Supporting the SDGs is vital, too, as we sustain our planet ” says Joanne Tawfilis, PhD, Fine Arts, and founder of Art Miles Mural Project.

The colorful, creative murals from Art Miles Mural Project were painted by students from California State University, San Marcos, by intellectually challenged young students from Mountain Shadows Outreach Center and the organization TERI, as well as students from Carlsbad High School and San Marcos High Tech, and, of course, UNA USA San Diego and Art Miles Mural Project designed by Joanne Tawfilis.

In 2020, celebrating at John McConnell’s Earth Day ceremony were Heiner Benking (Berlin) and Franz Nahrada (Vienna), among others. It took place in a Zoom Virtual Room – Multiple Locations. Sharing in this event, was Farah Lenser, Manfred Ronaheimer. Gerhard Burger, Leo Valhalla, and others from the United States.

Ann Charles
Ann Charles is UN Bureau Chief of "Baltic Review" based in New York City. She covers diplomatic activities at United Nations Headquarters in New York and the world body's work in human rights, education, culture, the environment, and tourism, among other global concerns.

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