Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thinking About December 7th

On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Thousands of Americans died that day -- and our country entered World War II. Uncle Dick was killed in the last few days of the war in Europe. Uncle Clarence was wounded badly twice. When he came home, people said to him "Guess you will be settling down and getting married now." He replied "No -- I want a quiet life." This fine man became sort of like a second father to me. I'm better off for having known him. Our society, though, is worse off because he didn't marry and have a family of his own.

I recently learned December 7th is the anniversary of another important national event. On December 7, 1972, the last Apollo mission to the Moon was launched.

Apollo was one response to the challenge mounted by the Soviet Union. We can be grateful that millions did not die from that conflict. Still, though, I think it did affect -- and not for the better -- our exploration of space.

We did get a man onto the Moon in 1969. That's far better than a nuclear war. Still, though, a decade later 59% of Americans thought that the Apollo project was a waste of money. They didn't see any real benefit from it.

In September I attended a memorial for Neil Armstrong at Washington National Cathedral. He was a great man and the memorial was moving. I must note, though, that there were lots of empty seats. The Cathedral is large, but it isn't that large. If NASA truly had their act together, they could have filled the place with their own local people -- especially if contract employees had been invited.

NASA still exists -- but it has huge problems. It needs reform. We need to get back to exploring and developing space, much as we did the American West -- and, indeed, our part of the Western hemisphere.