72 Days until the Presidential Election: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

The Apollo program was actually higher up on the list but with the news of Neil Armstrong’s death yesterday, I felt the need to re-organize the list of random things that are good about this country.  I’ve never lived in a world where a man hasn’t walked on the moon.  From the ultimate challenge issued by President Kennedy in 1961 to that July night in 1969, a group of individuals worked to have men walk on the moon and bring them home safely. I freely admit to being a fan of the space program: it encourages creativity, engineering and (for me) the ultimate experience a human could have, being able to view the earth without borders.

Thinking about the first mission to the moon and the integral team work required and the multiple ways the mission could fail to this day amazes me.  Creativity is often thought of as artistic: it is equally mathematical. I read in one of the tributes to Neil Armstrong that he, by his own admission, was a nerdy, white sock wearing pocket protector donning engineer from Ohio who simply walked on the moon.  Buzz Aldrin took communion on the surface of the moon.  His statement back to Earth after walking on the moon, “I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.”, underscore perhaps even minimize the accomplishment.  Michael Collins described the time he spent alone circling the moon as almost exhilarating.

For me, the teamwork, the creativity and sheer audacity to decide to walk on the moon in eight years is one of the greatest accomplishments this nation has achieved. The computing power used to walk on the moon is less than in the standard smart phone.  And as a nation we did it: we put a man on the moon. And another, plus a few more: the entire Apollo operation reminds me of the hummingbird who flies because it thinks it can not because it’s supposed to.  As a country, we have proven time and time again we can do great things when we put differences aside and focus on a goal.

I couldn’t see the moon last night to give it a wink thanks to a few overcast skies but I will this week.  The Apollo 11 astronauts, flight crew and everybody involved did something amazing, that even over four decades later still makes me stop and reflect on the absolute audacity of belief, brain power and courage it took to take a giant leap.

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