John Glenn is dead, and Buzz Aldrin ain’t feeling so good himself.
The other day I chanced to hear my old National Review colleague John Derbyshire talking about Glenn’s fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who was taken ill while visiting Antarctica and evacuated to New Zealand. John’s comments on Aldrin and his comrades apply also to Glenn:
Soon they will all be gone: the last participants in the human race’s most astonishing, most audacious, most wonderfully inspirational adventure to date.
Gone with them will be the memory of a U.S.A. that could accomplish such marvels, in those last years of heroic national vigor, before we turned our energies to guilt and rancor and divisive social crusades, and to persuading ourselves and each other that in the human sphere, everything is equal to everything else.
The Wright brothers’ first flight was in 1903. Fifty-nine years later, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, and seven years after that Buzz Aldrin became the first man to play “Fly Me To The Moon” on the moon (thanks to the portable cassette recorder he took with him).
We are now another half-century on, a half-century devoid of giant leaps and even small steps. When my book After America came out, I was booked on “Fox & Friends” to talk it over with Brian Kilmeade. Sitting next to Brian on the couch waiting to get going, I listened to Steve Doocy link to an item on the space shuttle Enterprise beginning its journey to whichever museum it’s wound up at. Steve called it “historic”, and, as I remarked to Brian, pity the nation whose greatness becomes “historic”.
John Glenn must surely have wondered, as all the astronauts weathered into geezers, how a great nation grew so impoverished in spirit.
Our heroes are old and stooped and wizened, but they are the only giants we have. Today, when we talk about Americans boldly going where no man has gone before, we mean the ladies’ bathroom. Progress.
How we grew so impoverished, in spirit as well as other ways, is simple: Progressivism. It sucked the juice out of everything it touched, beginning with Progressivists themselves, as grim and desiccated a bunch of killjoys as you’ll ever see anywhere. But the good news is, they were only able to stap our vitals because we allowed them to; as Steyn himself always says, decline is a choice. And this time around America chose differently. Hopefully, we’re all done with that nonsense now, at least for a while.