Monday, July 20, 2009


It is a bittersweet confluence of events we observe , tonight:

The 40th anniversary of humanity's most daring adventure, American astronauts setting foot on Earth's only true, natural satellite, the Moon and the recent loss of the peerless journalist who shared with us the unprecedented story of mankind's first Lunar expedition, the late CBS News anchor/reporter, Walter Cronkite.

There is little left to say and yet, so much to consider.

NBC News reports that 40 percent of Americans living ,today, were born after Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin set foot on the Moon's surface, as their colleague Michael Collins kept watch from lunar orbit,in the Apollo 11 command Module.It begs the question of lasting relevance to much of the populace.

Then , as now, there was acerbic and protracted debate in a country divided by politics, economics and social stratification over the most appropriate use of the vast resources devoted to the manned exploration of space.Some lauded it as the best investment in the future of our species, while others countered that overwhelming needs, here on Earth, far outweighed our desire to visit the stars.That conversation has been renewed and , I suspect, will intensify as we end the Space Shuttle program and launch Project Orion, which will return human beings to the Lunar surface, and use it as a weigh station for a planned Mars landing.

The race for space, as it was known in the 1950's and 1960's did create hero's for a country that had grown wearily cynical, as we watched wars, both hot and cold,plus political assassinations,destroy young lives and rob so many Americans of their optimism.

John Glenn, Yuri Gagarin, Neil Armstrong, and other brave explorers who travelled into space, became role models for young people around a globe that had become so politically and painfully divided.

But, for this night, I think we should leave the partisan debate aside, and take a few moments to look skyward. We should rekindle our human wanderlust. We need to celebrate a supreme moment, in not just the American adventure, but in that instant of resounding achievement that will live on, as long as human beings endure and as long as they chose to recall and venerate history.

And, we should also take a moment to recall that amid the "noise" of a low-resolution (382 scan lines per second), monochrome, video signal and the crackle of headset audio that was traveling from a grey powdery rock in the sky to our homes on the Big Blue Marble ( as one astronaut described Earth as viewed from space), television made it possible for us to share in the history and the hope of space exploration.It was a galvanizing moment for six hundred million people around the world who watched in astonishment and amazement.They watched on television.

There are no encomiums to be handed-out in that last statement.Just a reminder that television plays a role in uniting people, in helping us understand the greatest events of our time, and in holding-up a high-buff prism up our society, so we see the true colors of humanity.Sometimes we even bring the Moon and the stars into sharp focus.

So, tonight, if you were alive on July 20, 1969, and old enough to recall those electrifying events, I recommend you share your memories with someone who is too young to have been a witness to the history that occurred ,on that warm Sunday night.

Tell them where you were and what you saw on television.

Tell them how the wildly expressive journalist, Walter Cronkite, was speechless as men walked on the Moon for the first time. Then show them clip below, to prove it:)Enjoy!!!!

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