Forty-nine years ago today, and just a few hours from now, is the exact anniversary of whenÂ 50,000 steely-eyed missile men, crew-cutted geeks with pocket protectors, test pilots, fighter pilots, and hundreds of metric tons of raw testosterone kicked the rest of the world’s ass right to the bottom of the heap,Â going back to the dawn of time, from the moment thatÂ EagleÂ landed, to when this guy’s foot stepped off the LEM ladder.
Neil Armstrong, ace X-15 test pilot, and mission commander of Apollo XI, became the first man from earth to ever set foot on the Moon, and if and until we ever get people to Mars, he put every explorer in history, and even every guy to follow, below him on whatÂ Tom Wolfe correctly called “the top of the pyramid.”
He was there because his sidekick, lunar module pilot, and outside-the-box revolutionary thinker Buzz Aldrin
had managed to land the lunar module, off course, and with mere seconds remaining for landing before a crash-tastrophe, because you don’t fly 250,000 miles to puss out at the last 12 seconds, just for such piddling concerns as running out of fuel.
Meanwhile, as command module pilot Michael Collins was searching theÂ Moon’s surfaceÂ from lunarÂ orbitÂ to spot whereinhell (or rather, the Sea Of Tranquility) Eagle had actually landed,Â Armstrong and Aldrin were running through checklists and getting ready for the culmination of the combined effort of tens of thousands of people at NASA (back when they had a purpose, and a clue) and hundreds of thousands of contractors and subcontractors,Â accomplished to makeÂ the trip possible, less than a decade from Kennedy’s speech promising we’d do it.
Because that’s what Americans do.
Well, it WAS, at least. One of Aesop’s commenters explains why that’s no longer the case:
I like to compare and contrast Apollo 11 to the big event that happened not far from where I was. Woodstock.Â
The first was a tribute to hard working men and women: engineers, technicians, assemblers, and tens of thousands of hard working people who undertook a task that many viewed as impossible. “To land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth by the end of this decade”. It was hard work, it was risky work. Men died: outstanding men you’d be proud to have known or worked with. It was a triumph of intellect, done with slide rules and calculators that your Smart Phone out powers by a factor of thousands. Even today, it is thought of as being so hard to do that about 5% of the US population thinks we never did it.Â
The second was a bunch of kids having sex in the mud while drugged out of their minds, listening to singers and musicians drugged out ofÂ theirÂ minds.
The first group was dedicated to doing things others can barely only imagine – bending the universe to their will through sheer intellect and power. They are “can do” people.Â
The second group was dedicated to rubbing body parts against each other with no effort of will and no character. Their entire focus in life is their genitals.Â
The second group is now in charge of the country.
The time of the first moon shot was pretty much the final glory of America That Was; it was also the end of the era in which the last of the sane, patriotic Democrats—however beguiled they might have already been by the Great Darkness of hard Leftism—still roamed the Earth. Must be a coincidence, right?
On the “bright” side though, since Trump is a bought and paid for vassal of Putin, we ought to have no trouble continuing to hitch rides into space on rickety Russian rockets. So we got that going for us, right?
All kidding around aside, the moon landing was little short of a miraculous achievement, a truly stunning effort requiring brilliance, absolute commitment, sacrifice, and incredible courage. That succeeding generations have fallen so dismally short in all those areas and more diminishes the accomplishment not a whit. In hindsight, it’s almost as if the effort involved simply exhausted us, rendering us incapable of doing much than sitting back and gasping for breath. Nothing against their scientists, engineers, and astronauts, mind, but for some of us it will be quite a bittersweet day when some other nation—China, India, whoever it might be—takes up the reins, blasts off for the Final Frontier and leaves America in its Earthbound dust for good.