One of the things about America that dazzles, infuriates and fascinates the rest of the world is our ability to do what has never been done before. In fact, Americans seem to do it with the ease of making toast. There is a mystic to America and to being an American that makes the rest of the world marvel and jealous at the same time. That is why around this world of ours, America is despised sometimes but more often copied, emulated and envied.
No where in our history has America demonstrated it’s ability to do anything it sets its mind to than when it set its mind to land on the moon and return safely to earth. From the moment we accomplished this phenomenal goal, the world changed forever. No more were dreams unattainable. No more was science fiction doomed to forever remain fiction. From that moment on, Americans and people all around the world could look out at even their fantastic dreams and say ‘Maybe I can do it.” That is more than just a contribution to America, it is a civilization changing contribution to all nations, even to mankind itself.
On May 25th, 1961 then President John F. Kennedy issued the challenge to America and Americans across this great nation to be the first humans ever to make it possible for a human foot to step down on another celestial body, the earth’s moon. His words were brief, direct and so inspirational that Americans would not rest until they were fulfilled as he spoke…
“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth,”
President Kennedy gave us one decade to do what man had been dreaming of for centuries. Throughout history man has had the idea of actually walking on the moon deeply imbedded in it’s corporate dreams. At one time people thought the moon was made of cheese and if we landed on it, we would sink forever into a vast ocean of cheese. The moon’s influence and it’s role in our lives as an object of beauty, of mythology, of romance and even sometimes of fear, made President Kennedy’s words even more amazing.
We have to take a moment and observe with reverence when the leadership of this great country, as evidenced in President Kennedy’s challenge, was so in tune with the nation’s dreams, aspirations and abilities that it mobilized a people, for whom nothing is impossible, to do what had never been done before.
Even if he had made the target date for this astounding accomplishment the end of the century, it would have been just as daunting of a challenge to the combined will of a people. So when we all watched in wonder on July 20, 1969 as the first man on the moon, Neal Armstrong, placed his foot on the surface of our planet’s moon, we all knew that a miracle had occurred. His words, so carefully prepared, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” became part of the lore of America because they were words that confirmed America’s unique place in the world and in human history.
Even today with this event slowly becoming part of the glorious history of this great nation, our world continues to live in the shadow of that great moon landing. Yes, America went to the moon several times since then. And the scientific innovation that came out of that great event has benefited society in dozens of ways.
The moon landing and America’s space program continues to provide technology and inspiration for future leaders and future dreamers of new accomplishments that can only be done by a people that dare to dream, a people who believe with every fiber of their being that nothing is impossible to them and a people of destiny and great purpose. And no people on earth either in the present time or in civilizations past so perfectly fit that description as the great citizens of the greatest land in the world, the United States of America.