The giant who took one small step
has taken the final step. If you're my age or older, you will recall where you were and how you felt.
That day, I felt incredibly proud to be an American -- prouder, perhaps, than most. My father had helped to design components for projects Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. I wished then, and I wish now, that he had lived to see that day: July 20, 1969.
"We came in peace for all mankind." In those saner times, such words were permissible. Today, an ugly insistence on American "exceptionalism" (that is, nationalism) forbids any official expression of human brotherhood. Even a pro-forma proclamation of the virtues of peace might now be considered subversive.
I wish I could return to 1969. Many horrible things happened that year, as racism beget riots, the media made Charles Manson the new face of the hippie movement, and Nixon grew increasingly paranoid while sinking us deeper into the tarpits of a foolish war. Nevertheless, we remained prosperous -- because the New Deal still lived. Most Americans maintained good values. We had the Durants on our middle-class bookshelves, we had Leonard Bernstein giving the downbeat, we had Stanley Kubrick transforming our movie houses into temples of transcendence, we had Jack Kirby upending the minds of ten year olds everywhere, we had young people unashamedly saying "peace" as they came and went -- and we had Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the goddamned Moon
I had absolute confidence. A boy's confidence. There was no problem we could not solve.
Today I am more cynical. Nobody believes that Americans go anwhere "in peace." How can we? We are not at peace at home. We are not at peace in our hearts. We have been relentlessly taught that thinking of "all mankind" is a sin. So we think only of ourselves.