This blog post is the brainchild of my husband. I’m merely the writer.
After watching the pilot episode of The Astronaut Wives Club on ABC this week, my husband and I had a great conversation. He brought up the point that America no longer has a common interest or goal like that.
In the episode, America watched and collectively held its breath as Alan Shepard, in 1961, became the first American man in space. People tuned into television and radio broadcasts, as they awaited news that the mission was a success. A sigh of relief washed over the nation as we received the radio transmission from space.
It was a major milestone in American history. While he was in space for a mere 15 minutes, it paved the way for further, longer space missions. We achieved orbit, we put men on the moon, we’ve sent satellites out into the solar system. Even now, we have a satellite going past our solar system, into the deep regions of outer space.
But those moments waiting to hear from a man in space brought our nation together. Every citizen of this country longed to hear the transmission. We were all together, unified in a common goal. The same could be said of July 20, 1969, when the Apollo 11 mission landed the first man on the moon. Though it was not his first transmission after landing on the moon, I think Neil Armstrong said it best when he stepped off the ladder of the lunar module (Eagle/Tranquility Base) onto the moon for the very first time:
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”
Our nation did exactly what President John F. Kennedy said we would do by the end of the 1960’s, we had a man on the moon. Think of where you were that day, or in cases like me – imagine how you would feel waiting to hear from the moon. It makes me a little choked up thinking about it. The entire nation, waiting for one thing, having one goal. That is an awesomeness we are sorely lacking today.
In the generations since then, America has lost that togetherness, that common goal. There have been times when something seemed important, but not everyone was on board. There are always people working against that commonality, like the conspiracy theorists that claimed the moon landing was a hoax filmed on a sound stage. During the Vietnam War the country was divided whether we should or should not be there. The country was divided during the civil rights movement. We are divided now over marriage equality and the fighting in the middle east. The only time we have stood together as a nation in the past forty-five some odd years is on 9/11 when the World Trade Center tragedy happened, and that was more of a unified sadness than the unified hope I was thinking of.
There have been other instances of sadness. The Boston Marathon bombing, the Challenger explosion, the assassination of President Kennedy, to name a few. But that common stand together for the betterment of our nation seems to be lacking. We need to get back to that. To be a nation of unique individuals standing together as one.