Friday, July 19, 2019

Exploring the Moon and Beyond...

On July 20, 2019 the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of American Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon…a first for mankind.

I remember the day well.

My parents had piled my brother, sister and me into the back of our station wagon and driven over 2,000 miles to visit my dad’s brother’s family in Worthington, Minnesota. Coming from a small Virginia town, summers in Minnesota seemed magical to us kids. We looked forward to Aunt Elna’s cooking, Uncle Bill’s hugs, hand me down clothes from our older, “super-cool cousins” Jane and Jill, time at the lakeside park and running from the gigantic Minnesota misquotes. I loved all our visits, but that trip in July 1969 holds special significance.

“You kids come here; you need to see this!” I heard my Uncle Bill’s urgent call to us from across the house. We bounded down the two steps from the kitchen, through the hall, past the master bedroom and into the family room to see “the adults,” staring at the television, chatting nervously. We didn’t know exactly what was going on, but it seemed important. The grownups had been watching the Apollo 11 coverage for days, but they were really into it now. “This is IT,” they said. Whatever IT was.

I sat down on the floor in front of the group, wanting to appear interested and much more grown up than my tender 12 years. As we took our seats, and got quiet, we could sense the weight of what we were about to see. I remember my dad saying, “Settle down! You’re going to remember this for the rest of your lives.”

That seemed a bit dramatic, but I trusted my dad. Turns out, he was right.

I remember the afternoon sun streaming into the room as we strained to see the grainy picture on the TV, perched in the corner in front of the built-in bookshelves. I can still hear the soothing voice of Walter Cronkite as he described every detail of Armstrong’s descent down the exterior ladder allowing him to be the first human to set foot on the moon. I remember the sense of wonder, excitement and accomplishment that spread throughout that beautiful, wood paneled family filled room. Mom and Aunt Elna were grinning, but it was the men I remember most.

My dad and Uncle Bill, both proud WWII vets, were beaming with joy, relief and an unparalleled sense of American pride I never saw before. My aunt and uncle lived in a close-knit neighborhood and when we went outside to play later, I remember it seemed like everyone on the block, across the street and yes, even the entire town, were lost in a united celebration!

It’s hard to describe the enormity of this event to people born after the mid 1970’s. To my knowledge, this was the first live television event of it’s kind and a whooping 94% of American households with TV tuned in, together, to experience this amazing feat.
We were united as Americans and we were united as a planet as others around the globe celebrated with us.

1969 was a big summer. I remember it as the summer of the Manson murders, the height of the Black Panther movement, the scandal at Chappaquiddick, the summer of love at Woodstock and Nixon’s first year in office. It was a scary time to be a child and I often felt unsafe. I didn’t know what would happen next. The daily news was dark.

On Saturday afternoon in my beloved aunt and uncle’s family room that July 20th day in 1969 I saw a glimmer of hope in the eyes of my parents. It made me hopeful for a better future for all of us.

As we mark this 50th anniversary, I hope it’s the sense of unity, hope and shared adventure we remember most.

While our current issues seem overwhelming, if we can put a man on the moon, certainly we can unite to solve the problems facing us now.

I have an idea.

Let’s start with exploring the depths in the truest part of our own hearts.

As we look deeply within, we not only find that divine connection that is us, we find that it is what connects us all and makes us one.

That’s where the answers lie for this next evolution of human development.