By Alyse Kaminski | Staff Columnist
The ratings indicate that 530 million people gathered around their television sets on July 20 to watch man land on the Moon. Those who tuned in heard the words from Neil Armstrong that could change the course of our history: “[O]ne small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” This great advancement in technology has the power to change everything in many different ways.
We are nearing the end of the 1960s, and what a decade it has turned out to be. Americans have seen it all in these past 10 years. Just six years ago an assassin shot President Kennedy. For years, the Civil Rights movement shook up the country. And, of course, the continuation of Cold War still instills fear into everyone each and every day. This past decade was a heavy test of our strength as a nation. However, this giant feat wraps up these 10 years in a more positive light, almost in a victorious way. Sure, we had a tough decade, but we came out on top with this, with our flag on the Moon.
For so long, advancements, such as the men landing on the Moon, were strictly science fiction. Americans have gone to the cinema to see movies about space, and undoubtedly some thought these explorations would never happen. But just in this last week, fantasy became reality, and that means so much for technology.
The Apollo 11 mission proves the importance of technology in space alone. Just think: It is only 1969, and we have already stepped foot on the Moon (putting us ahead of the Russians). Who says we cannot go further into space in the future? Also, it is totally possible that further technological advancement could give insights into one of life’s most burning questions: Is there life on other planets? Maybe this is a question that will not be answered soon, but nonetheless, it is a question we can begin to answer now.
Also, it is not like Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins only went to the Moon and then packed up and left. The heroes also broadcasted a spectacular view of our planet. The three additionally experimented with the composition of solar wind, collected samples of materials of the lunar-surface and took photographs of the terrain on the Moon. This is a whole treasure trove of information, and the possibilities it opens up are innumerable.
It’s no wonder then why Americans should be ecstatic that the Apollo 11 mission proved successful.
However, while the mission to the Moon proves the importance of pushing the limits of technology outside of Earth, it also emphasizes the need to pay attention to planet-side issues. NASA spent millions of dollars on this mission (rightfully so), but there are also many issues on our own planet that need to be solved by technology. If Americans can leave the planet, break through the atmosphere and find themselves on the floating rock above us, then we surely should eventually be able to explain some of Earth’s mysteries. Maybe there is a cure for cancer, or maybe there is a way to determine where life came from. These questions, and others, also beg to be answered, and that is now within the realm of possibility.
The 60s really have been a rough decade. Americans have felt a weight on their shoulders all for the past 10 years. However, we seem to be ending on a more positive note. The years to come could be less about terror and more about human advancement in all walks of life.
Americans should feel like we are back on top. We should realize that we have gone beyond just being on top of the world.