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Where Were You Forty Years Ago Today?

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Where were you on July 20,1969? Of course, some of you weren’t even born yet, but keep reading. It tells a lot about American society. Some can tell you where they were when Elvis died or when the Vietnam War ended. Many of us will remember where we were when Barack Obama became the first African-American President or when Michael Jackson died. But back on a hot and humid night in the summer of 1969, I was nine years old and engrossed in a book on my bed. Suddenly, I heard my Mom yelling for my brother and I to get out to the living room. I sighed, put down my book, and wondered what the big deal was.

It was the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon and Neil Armstrong taking the first steps of man on it. “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” I was mesmerized and sat and watched as Walter Conkrite narrated the events. Afterwards, we went to bed, looking out of our windows, up high in the night sky, trying to see if we could catch a glimpse of those three American heroes.

Americans have been asking lately why we continue with the Space program. I think that a society that doesn’t explore its horizons does an injustice to the future generations. Who’s to say that one of our children won’t find livable areas on a distant planet, or develop products that may help stave off the greenhouse effect on own mother Earth?

When we lived on the eastern coast of Florida, we could see the Space Shuttle launches from our front yard. My son’s first one was when Senator John Glenn flew with the other Astronauts. Conor was about two weeks old at the time, and this August, he’s attending Space Camp, in Huntsville,Alabama. How much did that first Space launch make on him? Back in 1969, there were no female astronauts, so I concluded it was just another “man’s” job. If only I had known! I spent five years flying between 1,000 and 2,000 feet above the ground in a medi-vac helicopter. Thank goodness there were female flight RNs before me.

So pause for a moment, take your kids or grandchildren outside in the night and tell them the story about how forty years ago, man did an amazing thing. And hope for more amazing things to come.

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