On July 20, 1969 Astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the surface of the moon. I remember sitting in my living room in Detroit with my parents, watching on TV, along with almost every American. My father scoffed and believed it was a total waste of tax dollars. My mother thought it was faked and said it could not possibly be happening. That was 42 years ago. It was a time in our county when Americans had big dreams. It was a time when we truly asked, “Why not?” We did aim high and we made it happen.
There are many conspiracy theories surrounding the moon landing. It has been said that the whole thing was produced on a Hollywood soundstage. Having participated in the Space Program and interacting with numerous technicians. I actually met many of the astronauts. I have to declare that, without a doubt, it did occur.
I was lucky to have witnessed the first landing of the Space Shuttle Columbia at Edwards Air Force base in 1981. I still remember that day as a highlight of my life. It is reported that there were 200,000 people there on that day. When the Air Force Band stuck up the Star Spangled Banner, everyone present was overcome by tears, pride, and relief simultaneously.
I understand a lot of Americans believe the space program is an enormous waste of time and money, but I must respectfully disagree. The technology that had to be formulated to make the moon landing possible has completely changed our daily lives. Because of NASA research and developments we have smoke detectors, cordless tools, laptop computers, cell phones, MRI machines, and microwave ovens.
As a child I was lucky to have seen the birth of NASA and the Space Program. I watched as, in 1961, Alan Shepard piloted Freedom 7. I witnessed, in 1986, the terrible heartbreak of the Challenger tragedy. Now, as an adult, in 2011, I am witnessing the end of not only the Space Program, but America’s future. It feels to me like the end of a dream.