Right now I think I’d be happy to hear crickets whenever I try to engage people in talk of the old Apollo moon missions and the plan of returning to the moon by 2024. At least the crickets would be something. About all I’m getting from people makes the vacuum of space seem as thick as a moon rock.
Thank God for Facebook because at least there I can engage with fellow space enthusiasts in the various groups I’ve joined. I’m also thankful to be close to the Johnson Space Center and Space Center Houston, because they can feed my insatiable appetite for information about space exploration.
With the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing coming up in a month I hope to run a special package of stories in the newspaper to commemorate the event. Twice now in the last three weeks I’ve run a story in the paper asking those of us old enough to share your stories of watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin take those first steps on the lunar surface. So far, even the crickets aren’t chirping.
I can’t do this without a response from our readers, so I’m again appealing to you to take a moment and share your stories with us. Did you attend a party, watch in private, or were you employed by NASA or a contractor at the time? I know the moon landing meant the world to millions of people at the time. Surely it still does today. At least I hope it does.
I know the majority of people alive in 2019 were not around when the Apollo 11 mission took place. That’s why I’ve asked our younger folks to share their thoughts about humans going back to the moon by 2024 and onto Mars sometime after that.
This is a time for our generations to shine. This could be our generations’ crowning achievement. Does this not interest or excite you?
I just finished listening to the audiobook of “American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race” by Douglas Brinkley. It’s an incredible book that provides details that I had never known about what was going on from a political perspective in the few years before I was born. I’ve learned a lot from this book but what impresses me the most is the depth of detail into something I’ve always known.
The push to be first to land men on the moon was so much more than a race with the Russians. In hindsight we know that it really wasn’t much of a race at all. What we had in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions was a united sense of adventure and exploration. Even the space program’s biggest detractors had to admit to being impressed and inspired by what America accomplished.
Going to the moon brought people together in an unprecedented way. It advanced mankind with enormous leaps in technology, sociology, medicine, education, and scores of other disciplines. The direct and indirect spinoff technologies have rapidly changed the way we live and continue to improve our lives in previously unimaginable ways.
When it was announced last year that America would seek to return to the moon by 2024, I was stoked, along with thousands of other space enthusiasts. Unfortunately, the announcement landed like a thud on the average American.
It appears that people are so full of bitter hatred that instead of ascending to something great, they would rather spend their time tearing down the President or the political party opposite their own.
To be sure we have not had a Kennedy-like moon shot speech and Donald Trump certainly lacks the unifying charisma and leadership of our 35th President, but he has us on a path that we have strayed from since Apollo 17 left the moon in 1972.
We need to go to the moon not only to train for a future trip to Mars, but also to bring a divided people together again. We need that shared sense of awe and wonder as we step out into the great unknown and re-engage in the task of exploring our solar system and expanding our reach into the heavens.
The inspiration and knowledge we gain from a return to the moon will not come from the office-holder who points us in that direction but from the hundreds of thousands of people who help get us there. This is our chance to step up and lead or else cede what we have gained to another country that would gladly leapfrog us on the world’s stage.
So let’s hear it people, what do the moon shots of yesterday and tomorrow mean to you? Please share your stories of old and thoughts anew. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to The Sealy News, 193 Schmidt Road, Sealy, TX 77474. Don’t let the crickets speak for you!
(Faith, Family & Fun is a personal column by Joe Southern. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of The Sealy News, its staff or advertisers.)