Assuming that any of my blogs are worth writing, this one probably is not, but I nevertheless feel compelled to blog something about the 40th anniversary of the U.S. moon landing which took place on July 20, 1969. (And of course the U.S. would be the only country to make manned moon landings).
Almost like the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, I remember where I was and what I was doing at the time. I said almost. Whereas my memories of the Kennedy assassination day are still vivid, the ones of the moon landing day are not quite as clear.
Let me explain. As I have previously blogged, I was a follower of current events, of news, at an early age, having grown up listening to the morning news shows, such as Today, when I was still in bed, resisting the need to get up and get dressed for school. For a time, my next older brother and I slept in a bedroom that doubled as the family room or TV room.
And although I was never on the school newspaper – which seems kind of strange now that I look back at it – I always was a kind of journalism fan. My father was a journalist. As an adolescent I read news magazines, along with newspapers – of course no computers back then. I eventually worked on newspapers as a writer/photographer.
But something came over me after high school. I joined the army. I was in for three years. For the first two years the outside world nearly stopped for me. Guess I was into my own trivial problems. I was lucky I was sent to Germany rather than Vietnam, being as I began Feb. 18, 1968.
So what does all of this have to do with the first moon landing?
Well I had no thoughts of landing on the moon or any outside news that day. As I recall, my tank unit in Baumholder, Germany headed out to the field that day. I recall sitting in a grassy field near a large electrical transmission tower. I was all wrapped up in my own problem of the moment. I was a tank driver and as such depended on communication with my tank commander and other crew members via a crash pot on my head that had earphones and a mouthpiece, a CVC helmet, they called it. In order for that thing to work, I depended in part on a flexible wire called a “spaghetti cord”. Mine was not working. That necessitated people to yell at me or maybe kick my back with a foot. While we were stopped I was hassling with the cord and thinking about this relatively minor problem in the army thousands of miles away from hostile fire. One of the crew members mentioned to me that the U.S. had just landed on the moon.
That jogged my memory that there was a world, in fact a universe, out there. I went back to being interested in the news and have never stopped. And I find it hard to think of why some people seem so wrapped up in their own lives that the world around them becomes irrelevant. But it happens.
And I think back on the ambitious goal of President Kennedy who vowed we would go to the moon, and a few years later we did, but he had been cut down by an assassin’s bullet by then.
While we did fulfill his promise to go to the moon, I think the U.S. lost part of its soul when Kennedy died.
We eventually abandoned manned flights to the moon and anywhere else in space except for the International Space Station. We should have landed on Mars by now. But instead we are spending trillions of dollars to fight terror, as if you could do battle with a concept, and we dither over whether we have enough resources to guarantee every citizen health care.
What happened to the nation that could do anything, who could go to the moon?