Monday, July 20, 2009

One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind


When I stood outside on that summer night and looked up at the moon, I was disappointed. Somehow, I expected to see Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (and yes, I thought they'd be waving). Even if they weren't in view, I was certain I'd be able to spot the American flag. After all, it was the only red, white and blue thing up there.
Just so you don't think I was the densest eight-year-old living in the town of Massapequa Park in 1969, I want you to know that I didn't expect to see it with the naked eye. I had binoculars.

I didn't really have to look up at the sky. I only had to look to earth to see what happened. Parents and teachers spoke to us about living on Mars and beyond. We played with space-themed toys, watched the Jetsons, and drank Tang, "like the astronauts". Even though the sixties were turbulent times, one thing was clear: Our futures would be ones with unlimited potential, where we would explore the unknown.
To celebrate the anniversary of that first step, here's a quote from astronaut Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon:
The spirit of Apollo is not so much what we did but how and why we did it. Particularly in the period of time we did it, when the country was torn by civil strife, campus unrest, the start of an unpopular war and the president of the United States said after a grand total of 15 minutes of space flight that we’re going to go to the moon. He was asking us to do the impossible. He was asking us to do what most people at the time did not think could be done. That’s the spirit that we have to relay to younger generations. You never know how successful you can be or how good you can be unless you try.
For the sake of the eight-year-old who tonight looks up at the moon, I hope we go back.

6 comments:

MG Higgins said...

Well said. It was an amazing time. I'm still flabbergasted that it ever happened.

nanmarino said...

Me too. It makes me sad that we never continued. I expected to be driving a hover craft by now.

Sliding on the Edge said...

Things seem to take longer than we expect, don't they? Like what happened to those jet packs we were supposed to be strapping on our backs? Or where are those colonies in outer space with MacDonald arches every few hundred yards?

But wait . . . where are all those stunning novels we were supposed to have written and published by now? Gotta go write something.

nanmarino said...

Ha! so true. But I seriously expected to be driving a hover craft by now.

saputnam said...

I totally agree, Nan. The 60's were an amazing time... and I'm hoping that Obama can light some of that same, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" spark in our younger generation... we need to go back.

nanmarino said...

I've been watching Buzz Aldrin on news shows. He says we need to go Mars.