“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” St. Francis of Assisi

“That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.” Neil Armstrong, from the surface of the moon, July 20, 1969

SCIENCE Aldrin 105591Fifty years ago today I was an excited nine-year-old boy with a telescope in my front yard and dreams of being an astronaut. I had told my parents that I was going to use the telescope to watch the men walk on the moon. I sat down in a chair watched and waited and waited and watched until my neck ached. My father eventually came out to announce that I was going to miss Neil Armstrong walking on the moon and that he was about to come down the ladder. 

I forgot about my sore neck and raced inside just in time to see a grainy black and white TV image of Armstrong climbing down to the moon’s surface. And when he finally stepped off, it was more exciting than any Christmas morning, any birthday party, any snow day. Time had stopped for me, and for the rest of the world as well. We had done the impossible. We had landed a man on the moon, and he was walking on it.

Those who are old enough to remember can say where they were the day JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy were shot, and where they were the day the Challenger blew up, or on 9/11. It is fitting that we should remember these tragedies, as they bound us together in times of sorrow. But it is equally important for us to remember this nation’s triumphs, especially during these dark days of disunity and hate. For if we can remember how we once felt — at that moment — that we were all united and were a part of something larger, we can build on that and rise above that which divides us and embrace the things that unite us.

If you don’t think we can do this, just remember that there were those who said we’d never land a man on the moon. 


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