Moon still holds strong appeal 40 years after Apollo 11

Somewhere around third or fourth grade I had my most memorable and still favorite Halloween costume as an astronaut.

Like many young kids who find a subject to obsess on for a while, one of mine was space. I recall being fascinated with the Solar System, from the composition of the planets to how man explored space.

The obsession is gone, but it’s still hard to tear away from a shuttle launch, a well-done piece on space exploration on cable or a rerun of Apollo 13, still probably my favorite Tom Hanks movie.

It’s with that sense of wonder I hope we view today’s anniversary of the first lunar landing by the crew of Apollo 11.

Those three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, will have an audience today with President Obama to press for progress on a mission to Mars. With unemployment nearing 10 percent nationally and health care reform running into stiff opposition, chances are the President will provide a polite, supportive audience and little else.

Space exploration, sadly, has always been about political priorities. If it weren’t, deep space exploration would be more on the front burner than perpetually something we’ll get around to at some point in the future.

But for today, at least, remember what it was like as a kid when you, just like the Jim Lovell character Hanks plays in Apollo 13, closed one eye, covered the moon up with his thumb and then pulled it away in a gesture of reverence and wonder. That sense of exploration to investigate God’s creation should be a constant in our view of where we sit in the universe.


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