Hero of the Week: Senator Gaylord Nelson

In 1970, after a decade of social activism and a series of environmental disasters, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson helped create the first Earth Day and inspired 20 million people to demonstrate across the country. In 1995 on the 25th anniversary of Earth Day, President Clinton awarded Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Though he is but one person in the vast modern environmental movement, we wanted to make sure we honored his legacy this week. Take a look at the clip above which is a speech Nelson gave before the first Earth Day. Some of us weren’t alive in 1970 but this speech is a reminder that we are stewards of a movement that existed before us and we must work to ensure that it exists beyond us. As Earth Week draws to a close, here are some quotes from that speech that are especially lovely:

“Our goal is an environment of decency, quality, and mutual respect for all human beings and all other living creatures.”


“The battle to restore a proper relationship between man and his environment, between man and other living creatures, will require a long, sustained, political, moral, ethical, and financial commitment far beyond any commitment ever made by any society in the history of man. Are we able? Yes. Are we willing? That’s the unanswered question.”

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