Today we are mesmerized by the 50th Anniversary of the first walk on the moon. Our young newly-blended family lived in Central Florida, with “new Dad” a bright engineer working in the space program. He was delighted to wake us up at dawn to gather in the front yard so he could show his new sons “dad’s rockets” as each satellite and Gemini project launched. I miss Dad, the son of non-English speaking Ellis Island immigrants, who learned to speak English in first grade, “from the wrong side of the tracks” who respected the importance of totally assimilating into the country that he loved dearly and later proudly served as a Navy man. Dad went on to become a Villanova graduate and the epitome of the opportunity, freedom and greatness that America has to offer. I’m blessed that the memories are still crisp of the summer of 1969, standing there beneath the palms with my older brother, holding my new baby sister, engulfed by the humid Florida air permeated by the aroma of the citrus groves. We sometimes struggled to keep up as Dad enthusiastically explained jet propulsion, gravity and orbital circumnavigation. We were in awe in many respects, as a family and as a country. We were finally a whole family, reunited, static, safe, loved. And, the country was healing, united for an electrifying snapshot in time as Americans were authoring a new chapter in the history of mankind. Strangers from every walk of life, background, race and religion gathered around TVs everywhere, in stores, offices, restaurants and homes. For a moment, people were uniquely united and proud to be a part of something bigger: Being American.
I’m proud of dad, of his peers, his industry and of our country. They pursued greatness and achieved the impossible. They brought diverse groups of people together through their efforts, even if only for a moment. My heart and respect goes out to all the men and women of the space program who have dedicated their lives to this amazing and noble pursuit.