Coming right up is my favorite holiday, Independence Day, and just behind that, the anniversary of an event which reminds us of America’s greatness – then and now.
This will be the 240th anniversary of the day which patriots banded together to sign Mr. Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence.
In just a few weeks, it will be the 47 anniversary of the day astronauts landed on the surface of the moon.
The people of the United States built, and continue to build, a great country because they were always great explorers.
By the time you read this, I will be meeting my new grandson for the first time. So far, we have only seen each other over the computer via Skype. While his mother seems to be surprised by Luke’s long legs, his grandmother seems to be impressed with how he looks like his mother.
All you have to do is watch a newborn child – whether in person, or over the computer – and watch their eyes move around. It is their nature, regardless of their country of origin, to look around. Explore their surroundings.
Before you know it, Luke will begin to crawl, then begin to walk. And toddlers never walk towards their parents. If yours were anything like my kiddos, they ran as fast as their legs would carry them. They were experimenting, discovering, exploring.
When Apollo 11 approached the moon’s surface on July 20, 1969, the astronauts were working hard to avoid crashing in a boulder field. They landed with a scant 25-seconds of fuel left.
“We barely made it,” astronaut Buzz Aldrin wrote later, “but we did make it and we were pushing the limits.”
People will always have a desire to explore what they haven’t seen, whether it’s in the heavens, on earth or below the surface of the earth. Or, discovering something in our soul.
What makes us as Americans unique is our quest to improve and reach for new horizons, whether it is a group of explorers following the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean or a scientist looking for a vaccine for polio.
The trip to the moon and back took the astronauts eight days. The moon landing fulfilled the challenge set forth by President John F. Kennedy that NASA would land a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.
Like signing the Declaration of Independence, or traveling west to explore the Louisiana Purchase, the trip to the moon will be celebrated for centuries to come.
That quest for discovery, however, can be something as simple as a recent high school graduate, going out into the world to learn more at a college or university or a college graduate taking his or her place in the workforce or even a young family, celebrating the birth of a new baby.
There is a little bit of danger in the unknown. But Americans are not often going to back down from something that is going to be a challenge.
Exploring the unknown. Whether you are about to begin a new life in school, a new job or you’re simply an infant with big eyes trying to discover your surroundings, Americans have a driving ambition to explore.
“We feel this stands as a symbol of the insatiable curiosity of all mankind to explore the unknown.”
Dr. Buzz Aldrin on the Apollo 11 Mission
By Bruce Wallace