We are days away from celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Neil Armstrong paid homage to the Wright Brothers.
To whom do you owe a debt for your accomplishments?
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July 20, 1969 was a momentous day. The Apollo 11 mission successfully landed a man on the moon fulfilling President Kennedy’s promise.
Of equal importance was the subsequent safe return of the astronauts, something that was by no means a given. I won’t attempt to describe the courage of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins exhibited. What I will comment on was Armstrong’s recognition of the work of those who had come before.
At my Toastmasters meeting this morning, Dinesh Patel shared a few facts about the mission. Few Americans are unfamiliar with Armstrong’s “A small step for man; a giant leap for mankind.” as he stepped onto the surface of the moon. I will wager that few of us know that the astronauts were permitted to carry personal items. Space in the space capsules was extremely precious and so I am touched by the sentimentality of the act.
The little pouches are called Personal Preference Kits (PPKs).
They measured roughly 10” x 10” x 2”. Because these were considered personal property Wally Schirra’s PPK from the Gemini 6A mission is the only one who’s manifest has been made public.
We do know that Armstrong’s included two items from his fellow Ohioans, Orville & Wilbur Wright: a piece of wood and a piece of cloth from their 1903 plane.
Those mementos honored the momentous debt the space program owed those two bicycle mechanics.
That “giant leap” was made possible by standing on the shoulders of those giants.
I continue to be astounded by the leaps of progress in the 66 years between that first flight and the moon landing.
I’ve a lovely wooden box at home containing what to the uneducated eye might be described as “junk”.
My mother’s and my high school rings, my father’s and godfather’s watches, my grandfather’s ring. The watches no longer keep time, the rings are too small for me to wear and the rest appears to be flotsam and jetsam.
But to my eyes, they are reminders of the giants of my life. They are each a talisman symbolizing the courage I’ve inherited from the shoulders upon which I stand.
I’m sure Armstrong was paying homage to the pioneers of flight, but I’d also be willing to wager he drew courage from the memory of the Wright Brothers.
Where do you find your courage, your heart to do what needs to be done?
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Til next time,