Monday, July 20, 2009

Where Feet They Hardly Touch the Ground

Forty years ago today Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first two folks from here to take a walk out there - hopping down a ladder onto the surface of the Moon. I would be lying if I told you that I had any recollection of that event as it occurred - being all of about 30 months old at the time. At that stage I was more interested in trying to keep down everything I ate and drank and not doing #1 or#2 on myself. In retrospect it is frightening to me how the things I strove to accomplish in my terrible two's were revisited during my college years.

The interplay between irony and coincidence is one thing that has plagued me most of my life. It is certainly not THE one thing- merely an entry on an ever-expanding list of items. Thus, it stumps me - as I suspected it would - whether the death of America's anchorman Walter Cronkite less than one week prior to the 40th anniversary of an event that left him speechless and visibly elated on-air is an example of the former or the latter. Mr. Cronkite seems forever intertwined with certain events. He was in life and in death he shall remain so.

Forty years ago - in the eleventh hour of a decade that saw we the people of these United States test the mettle of President Lincoln's cautionary words about a house divided - two men - two American men - did indeed take a giant leap for mankind. They took steps that - for a moment anyway - put all of us back in the canoe and paddling the same direction, as opposed to fighting the stream's current and each other as we had been doing. Forty years later it still seems inconceivable to me that someone not only developed the technology to launch human beings into outer space and successfully land them upon the intended target but - even more surprising - that the human beings who developed the technology found other brave (perhaps more than a bit crazy) human beings to volunteer to undertake the trip.

No one discusses going to the Moon any longer and - in fact - by the time Apollo 13 announced, "Houston we have a problem" the nation's love affair with lunar exploration had waned. Yet we still are a nation imbued with and embodied by its pioneer spirit - its sense of adventure. And the trick is not to give up but to simply continually search for new adventures - new frontiers to conquer.

We are still here. They are still out there. And that is, simply, the way it is. And that is, indeed, one that that will simply never change.


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