Friday, June 24, 2011

Orville to Orbit: I Want America to Keep Doing Big Stuff

From the the fall of the Twin Towers to the end of the space shuttle. Quite the decade. Quite the symbols. Powerful symbols falling suddenly and fading away slowly. Symbols of America now seeming to become smaller, poorer - turning inward instead of upward and outward.

Twin Towers and the space shuttle. They seem like companion pieces now. Both often reviled in their time as clumsy, ugly. Yet, when they're gone, then, in the rearview mirror, we see how beautiful they were.

And what is left with the end of the space shuttle era, the long wait to an uncertain future for NASA? Now, as the only country in the world to have walked on the moon humbly hitches a ride on old-fashioned Russian rockets.

Where now do we find vision and inspiration? What kind of country are we at this shaky moment in time? Are we turning on each other, instead of uniting to pull each other up?

Or do we merely turn away from each other, and from anything worthwhile? To mindless entertainment, the unreality of reality shows a poor substitute for the joy of truly stirring achievements?

My grandpa was born before the Wright Brothers took their first flight. He lived to see men walk on the moon and fly a big spaceplane called the shuttle.

I'm old enough to remember "One giant leap for mankind."  I want to live long enough to see people walk on Mars.

Yes, me. The one with aerophobia. I myself may be afraid to fly. But all the more reason for a poor gravity-bound S.O.B. to watch someone else spreading their proverbial wings. Because perhaps that in turn motivates me, pushes a lot of us to dare something in our own small way.

We need someone to make us take giant leaps again.

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