I think today should be celebrated in the same manner that the US celebrates Columbus Day. Perhaps it should even supplant Columbus Day. But, that’s just my opinion.
Because we are relearning the motives and actions of Columbus and his fellow Conquistadors, his name and the holiday have become controversial. Meantime, When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon the peoples on Earth were united in wonder and awe. The first humans on the Moon was a landmark event that was of great magnitude with magnificent implications.
Space Exploration has created a whole new paradigm through which we can judge our species’ accomplishments. A completely new and positive way of looking at the world and the Universe around us has been made possible through the continuing efforts of the people involved in Space programs in various nations around the globe. I do not understand why July 20th is not already an official national holiday.
As long as humans have existed, we have been curious creatures whose urge to explore is one of our dominant traits. When we see something, we want to know more about it. We want to touch it. We want to fully understand it. Probably the oldest mysteries to humankind have been the sky and the objects in it. All the planets of the Solar System except our own are named after a god or goddess.
Even though that first Moon landing in July of 1969 triggered a new generation of explorers, It wasn’t the first event, nor the last one to do so. The history of Space exploration parallels our modern age.
The general public was spurred into action when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957. The next great landmark took place on April 12, 1961, when the Soviet Union launched the Vostok 3KA-3 spacecraft carrying Yuri Gagarin into Outer Space. He became not only the very first human to travel into Space, he was the very first human to orbit the Earth.
Further developments and human missions by both the USSR and the United States led to the incredible goal of sending humans to the Moon. From that date, onward, there has been a continual drive by nations everywhere to have their own space programs. This is not surprising. Space represents unlimited potential.
The process of Space Exploration continues today. You can check out a site right now and witness it for yourself. http://www.ustream.tv/channel/iss-hdev-payload (If the visual is dark, wait patiently for an eventual image.) The International Space Station is a work in progress with a crew of people from various nations. The ISS is an example of how we can all work together towards positive, constructive ends.
So, don’t think of today’s unofficial holiday as a celebration of only Apollo Eleven. Today is when we commemorate some of our grandest visions. Space exploration takes us away from the pettiness of life and reveals a grandeur that is as infinite as the Universe.