COLUMN: 40 Years (And One Day)

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Politics

On July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong and his colleagues set foot on the lunar surface for the first time in the history of mankind. That was 40 years and one day ago today.

Why do we here at Rhombus commemorate this auspicious moment in human history 40 years and one day later? For two reasons: a) we’re contrarians and all the media hoopla about the anniversary yesterday wasn’t really our scene, and b) I am, admittedly, a procrastinator of the highest order. Regardless, who is to say that celebrating such a great achievement 40 years and one day later is any less than doing so 24 hours earlier? We here at Rhombus (and our loyal and beloved readers) will commemorate the moon landing whenever we feel like it — and we feel like it today.

That moment was not great simply for what it was, but for what it symbolized: the full extent of human skill and ingenuity, the power of a great nation committed to a goal, the results of daring and innovative leadership. When President John F. Kennedy challenged Americans to literally reach for the stars, no one believed such things were possible. Seven years later, thanks to fearless leadership and national resolve, Armstrong and Co. were planting the stars and stripes on the moon. So for those who — even today — say that we cannot do difficult things, I’ll raise you one better.

Not only can we do difficult things, we have before and we will again. We can and we must. Health care reform, renewable energy solutions, reduction of carbon emissions, nuclear arms control, prevention of Third World genocide, battling religious extremism in every corner of the globe — the list could go on and on. These things cannot be optional; they must be a reality. Now is not the time for apathy or negativism; now is the time to dream big, if only because there is no acceptable alternative. There is no one else to lead these efforts, to build the coalitions necessary for success. Certainly we cannot accomplish these things by ourselves, but it is unlikely that they will be done without our leadership. Despite the shenanigans of Messrs. Bush and Cheney over the past decade, America still has international clout to burn. As has been true before, so it is again: we remain the world’s last great hope.

Yet the question lingers: How will we respond to the call of history? When our children’s children read of their grandparents’ generation, what will they learn? That they did what was necessary — or that they shirked the opportunity to sacrifice for the greatest good? The result depends on our action. This is not to say that the path will be easy or the burden light. It most certainly will not. However, as President Kennedy declared so many years ago, we must choose to do these things “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Should we choose to heed a wise man’s advice and answer the call of history, we will look back 40 years and one day from today and commemorate our finest hour, our national commitment to a set of heretofore “impossible” goals.

Your great-grandchildren will thank you.

Steve Pierce is co-founder and editor of Rhombus. He admits to having a personal weakness for presidents with liberal politics, flowing rhetoric and prominent three-letter initials.

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