It felt like the middle of the night. And I remember the words coming from the TV as we watched black & white static, “Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Moon landing!
I was 8 years old. Not old enough to grasp the significance, but thank god old enough for it to be seared into my memory. I remember when we all gathered around the TV again 6 hours later to watch the first live transmission from the surface of the moon. I saw those weird, inflated moon boots of Neil Armstrong’s come bouncing down the ladder, and then I heard him say “that’s one small step for man…”
One Giant Leap
On 12 July 1962, President John Kennedy reiterated the vision…
We choose to go to the moon…
And we did.
By god, just over 7 years later we freaking did it.
I took it for granted because I was a child. I had no way to understand the miracle that these crazy amazing engineers had wrought. It was common as cars and radios to me.
And for the next five years of my life, my country kept blasting rockets into space and sending men to the moon and back.
Then we just… stopped.
The War That Killed The Dream
Vietnam destroyed the morale of the country, rotting us from the inside out. We were no longer willing to waste money on wars half a world away nor on worlds half a solar system away.
And so we just stopped.
We didn’t just stop shooting rockets to the moon; we stopped dreaming and stopped believing in ourselves.
I would never have imagined, let alone believed, that an entire generation of children after me would grow up without a space program.
We were unique, me and my fellow late-baby-boomers who were children during the space race. We remember a time when we knew how to put a man on the moon and bring him back again; when we knew no limits except our imaginations.
That is perhaps the most terrifying cost of endless, ceaseless war: the destruction of our children’s imaginations.
I know that some people believe it is foolish as well as naive to imagine a world without war, because we have always been at war.
But I cannot stop imagining it.
I cannot help but wonder what we might have done if all the money wasted on bombing brown people was instead wasted on blasting rockets to the stars.
What might we have done?
What dreams might we have inspired?
Imagine Something Better Than Paradise
Today, we have hundreds of thousands of young brown men who believe a medieval myth about a wrathful god named Allah and who dream of nothing more exciting than blowing themselves to bits so they can enjoy the attentions of young virgins in some imaginary paradise.
If only they could imagine a different future, one where they are alive. I wonder what imaginations, what dreams die at the hands of the suiciders?
Here’s to the impossible dreamers who put a man on the moon.