Image by Henry A. Waxman and António Martins
McConnell died in 2012 and devoted most of his life to promoting peace, ecological transformation, and world unity. During the 1960s, he was among the leading contemporary peace activists and one of Earth Day’s main creators. His idea for the flag was based on the inspiration from Apollo 10 space mission in 1969 when the American astronauts took the famous photo of the Earth.
Photo of Earthrise by Apollo 10 space mission via Wikimedia Commons.
Before the 1960s, as in 1957 after the first successful Soviet satellite Sputnik launch, McConnell wrote in favor of peaceful cooperation in exploring space for the benefit of humanity as a whole. On 22 April 1970, as the first Earth Day manifestations were held in the USA, the original flag used to look like as shown above. McConnell made it by printing photos from the Apollo space missions. One interesting fact is that the printer used by McConnell accidentally reversed the colors blue and white during printing. This resulted in oceans being color in white and landmass being colored in blue.
McConnell was also an active Christian who believed that humans should take care of the Earth and share its resources equally. In October 1969, at the UNESCO conference in San Francisco, McConnell proposed a global holiday to celebrate Earth’s life and beauty and advance peace.
This proposal later led to the creation of Earth Day in order to alert people about the need for preserving and renewing the threatened ecological balance upon which all life on Earth depends. The flag was created to, among other things, symbolize world peace, unity, and harmony.
Screenshot: University of California.
It is important to understand that the Earth Flag has different versions. Thein the corner of the flag itself is changeable and has been updated several times concerning different space missions.
Screenshot via Earth Trustee
McConnel’s opinion was that governments worldwide should use the Earth Flag and initiate a global effort to halt the degradation of Earth and foster its nurture and care. During an Earth Flag Ceremony in New York in 1978, John McConnel stated the following message about the flag and its symbolism:
We raise the Earth Flag, to encourage and inspire the love of Earth, We raise the Earth Flag to enlist and unite young and old in courageous action for our planet’s protection — for careful nurture of its life and care of its resources in every city and neighborhood.