Peace Bells will simultaneously ring at the Vienna International Centre in Austria and at United Nations Headquarters in New York today to mark the moment that Spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere and Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.
To celebrate "Earth Day" the peace bells will toll as a reminder that "peace is a common desire for people everywhere". At exactly 19.25 pm in Vienna the bells will chime for Vernal Equinox – as the sun sets at the South Pole and rises at the North Pole. IAEA Director of Information Mr. Marc Vidricaire will ring the Japanese peace bell in the VIC Plaza. Mr. John McConnell, the 90 year old founder of Earth Day will ring it at UN Headquarters in NY, followed by a minute´s silence for peace. Bells will also toll in many other places in the world, including Vilnius (Lithuania), Beijing (China), Paris (France) and Kyoto (Japan).
The UN has backed this global initiative for the past 35 years. Former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said of the peace bell in NY: "Whenever it has sounded, the Japanese Peace Bell has sent a clear message. The message is addressed to all humanity. Peace is precious. It is not enough to yearn for peace. Peace requires work - long, hard, difficult work."