TUCSON – Contrary to its original purpose, Earth Day in many communities has turned into a commercial extravaganza extolling the ecological practices of polluters and earth destroyers.

When environmentalist and peace supporters learned that, for the ninth year in a row, Raytheon Corporation, Tucson’s largest private employer and maker of deadly cruise missiles, would be sponsoring the local “official” Earth Day festivities, they decided to act.

Tucson Friends of the Earth’s float bore a big sign with the slogan “Protect the Earth.” When the float reached the reviewing stand, activists jumped out and tore off the outer layers revealing two signs: “Raytheon Destroys the Earth” and “Raytheon Bombs Little Children.” Other bystanders pulled out cardboard missiles, which they proceeded to throw over the float to the delight of the hundreds of schoolchildren present.

Friends of the Earth was awarded third prize in the adult category for their innovative antiwar float. Raytheon, meanwhile, had taken down their banner and removed their booth from the event.

Tucson’s had it with the “Raytheon Earth Day.”

The author can be reached at stelnik@webtv.net