Reporter's Note: President Barack Obama, unlike some Commanders in Chief, welcomes ideas from the public about how to run America. So far he appears to have rejected my idea for Whacky Hair Mondays, and a mid-August Burrito-Fest! But I keep trying with a letter each day to my neighbor over on Pennsylvania Avenue.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/TECH/06/18/nasa.rocket/art.lro.launch.nasa.jpg caption="A rocket-propelled lunar orbiter lifts off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Thursday on its way to the moon."]
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
I know I have talked about this subject before, but I must say I was delighted to see that rocket blast off taking that NASA probe toward the moon! Just like a visit to a favorite restaurant in a distant town, (like the old Alley Cat in Missoula! Which, I think is closed now…) it’s been decades since we last strolled around the lunar surface, and a return trip is overdue.
Plenty of critics, of course, will disagree with me; folks who say we have too many problems here at home to be wasting money on picnics in space, especially if we have no idea precisely what we will get for our dollars. And you may be surprised to hear me say, fair enough. They have a reasonable point and one that ought to be considered.
But I have a point too. America is a land of innovation, invention, and exploration. (For crying out loud, we came up with Gilligan’s Island!) The final frontier, to paraphrase Kirk, really is space. Do we know what lies out there? No. But neither did ancient proto-humans who followed the herds and the seasons across uncharted lands in search of new homes and better lives. Neither did long ago sailors who pushed to sea despite rumors of monsters, storms, fanged reefs, and Tyra Banks. Neither did scientists who braved the scorn of their peers, the condemnation of their religions, and persecution by their governments to explain the mysteries of nature. Neither did artists who abandoned the respectable to embrace the revolutionary. Neither did Brad before he met Angelina! (Well, ok, it is possible they had heard of each other before the first date.)
America needs its economy revived to be sure, and that may demand many costly, difficult, earthly commitments. We must be careful about our deficit, and all the services our growing population might require. But we also need, I think, a revival of our imagination. For all of our worries, we must also restore our dreams. (And I don’t just mean that one about the squirrels and the beach ball that drives me so nutty) We need to look into the depths of the oceans, the puzzles of science, the beauty of the arts, the might of our industry and technology, the glory of our education, and the extraordinary interactions between cultures that travel and the Internet have put onto our doorsteps, and we need to reach…for greatness.
Have you been to the Air and Space Museum lately? If you get a moment, give me a call and we’ll squeeze in a visit. It speaks to technology, discovery, tenacity, bravery; but most of all it speaks to the need of humans to reach out into their universe and explore.
My father and I stood outside our home in Illinois one bitter winter night, years ago when I was just a grade schooler. It was around 3 in the morning, the yard was crusted in snow, and we had arisen from our beds to watch an eclipse of the moon. Our breath formed icy clouds while the shadow of earth spread over that distant, cratered land. We waited the full cycle, ducking in and out of the warm house, to see the moon emerge brilliant and white again against the eternity of space.
Mankind has waited long enough to return to the moon. You have told us to hope, to dream again. Here’s my dream, and Buzz said it too…to infinity and beyond.
Find more of the Foreman Letters, here.
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