I know, it’s not Monday again. I’ve been missing that self-imposed deadline lately. Just so I get something posted…
The 20th of July — 45 years ago, the United States and the rest of the world watched as Armstrong and Aldrin stepped down onto the moon – the first humans to do so.
That day still rings for me. My dad was a big one on making sure his kids took in historical things on TV … and this was one of those times. We sat in the living room and watched the shadowy images. We were quite able to make things out despite those shadows. We were led by the now-famous broadcast on CBS, in which Walter Cronkite practically busted with pride as those pictures came back from the moon. That clip of Walter is still used in movies and documents about man in space.
I have said this before and I will continue to say it. We haven’t had a moment like that since then. The exhilaration of that day is unparalleled in my lifetime, and I hunger for such a time again.
It was a bold adventure. President Kennedy dared us to do it, and we did. It cost a boatload of money, man hours, and even a few lives with the fire on Apollo 1. The returns of space flight has been immense – medical advances, communications beyond anyone’s imagination, textiles, foods …. such a fantastic set of achievements.
Our country has seen such things before – the Louisiana Purchase was no doubt as mind-boggling. We increased the size of our country by a magnitude of such size that we couldn’t fathom the size of it – and it begat so much: not just the natural resources, but so many other wonders – rivers, mountain ranges, deserts…
Later on, because of that Louisiana Purchase, the industrial revolution found us building a railroad from coast to coast, joined by that famous golden spike ceremony in Promontory, Utah. Travel and shipping grew beyond what we thought could happen. What used to be months of travel was now cut to weeks – even days – of time on the road.
And also, again due to the industrial revolution, we saw the manufacture of the automobile. Henry Ford’s practice of the assembly line gave us a good product that served the citizens of the United States for years to come…. not to mention his practice of paying his employees a very livable wage…. and out of this came jobs related to cars; gas stations, auto repair shops, and affected how and where we did our shopping.
Related to the auto industry, President Eisenhower brought in the interstate highway system. Imagine how many families made their living to build those roads – to service those who travel upon them.
Have you noticed how the events I mention happened quicker and quicker as time passed? It was barely a decade between the final mile of the construction of interstate highway mile and the moon landing I started out with. Since then, have we seen any similar situation? Maybe we have seen such things in the world of computers and technology… but you know, those are all really extensions of the space program.
I think we are long overdue for a new adventure for our country – maybe we will all see that same pride when one of our research hospitals cures cancer or some similar scientific advance. Maybe it will be in a new fuel – or the perfection of solar or wind power that will vastly change the way things are handled.
I don’t know what it will be, but I hunger for one of those moments of national pride… something we all look at each other, grin, nod, and shake hands and slap each other on the back.