July 20, 2009
Forty years ago today, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.”
Apollo 11 fulfilled President Kennedy’s promise seven years before to land a man on the moon before the end of the decade. It showed what can be accomplished when we do things together.
Space exploration since that historic day has produced advances in science and medicine. Americans celebrated not only being first on the moon and beating the Russians, but the values and virtues that made it happen. These were the kinds of people America produced – smart, tough, brave, adventurous and committed. They had what a book and film called “The Right Stuff.”
That “stuff” doesn’t seem to be favored in America in 2009. We focus on celebrity more than substance and on feelings more than grit. While we celebrate this anniversary, we ought to remember what and who made it possible. It isn’t too late to return to those virtues. The 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 would be a good time to start.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C.