I came across something I wrote five years ago while ruminating yesterday afternoon on the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's One Small Step for Man.
Forty years ago today, we walked on the moon for the first time. If you weren't yet born when that happened, you missed something, you really did. You can read a library of books on how much effort and coordination, time, talents and money such an effort took, and it's staggering, but here's the thing to remember from 'back in the day':
Going to the moon wasn't the only thing we were doing as a country, as a tribe, a nation-state on Earth. We had almost 450,000 men under arms halfway around the world in forests and fields of Southeast Asia in a war that was to be as divisive as none before it in the history of our nation and whose outcome left us saddened and sullen for a decade.
Nearly the same number of young men and women were heading to Upstate New York during this summer, actually in August, for what was advertised as three days of Peace, Love and Music and almost all anyone can remember, whether they were or not, is all the mud and the incredible performances by so many musicians, especially those whose flame flickered brightly from that stage and were then forever extinguished because of self-indulgence or profound bad luck.
Back at the moon walk, we on Earth watched around the world, with some of our younger brothers and sisters going outside to stand on the porch at Harvey's Lake (Pa) and look up at the moon to see if you could see the astronauts (if wishing could have made it so) as the astronauts seemed to skip and dance across the most desolate place we could imagine.
As a nation we were faced with challenges all around us-but we found the time, actually we MADE the time, to watch these extraordinary people do this extraordinary thing that NO ONE in our history had ever done before. And just as no man enters the same river twice because both he and the river have changed, there is no way we can ever again be those people who watched by the dawn's early light what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming.
We did it then, and we can do it now--not because it's easy, because it's not, but because it's hard and because if we do not repair and restore our country, we will have no one to blame but ourselves when in another forty years we cannot recall anything to be proud of since the Moon Walk.