“First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth,” said President John F. Kennedy in 1961.
When Kennedy made that proclamation in the early 60s the space program was in its infancy. The idea of a man landing on the moon seemed like a piece of science fiction at that time. Part of Kennedy’s determination was due to the “Space Race.” The Space Race was the United States’ competition with the Soviet Union for spaceflight supremacy. Ultimately, Kennedy’s goal for the US was met and man landed on the moon in 1969. Has anything since topped that feat from nearly 50 years ago? The sheer innovation and creativity that went into sending a man to the moon is remarkable. Our country in the 60s didn’t have Facebook—they didn’t even have MySpace. There were no iPods or iPads. There weren’t even compact discs. When you put into context where the country was in terms of technology in the 60s—landing on the moon for that generation is mind-blowing.
I can remember when VHS tapes were the norm for viewing movies at home. There were problems with the format—the quality deteriorated quickly and rewinding the tapes was never fun. The problems weren’t so great though that I felt like abandoning the VCR. DVDs, Blu Rays and Digital Copies are of course fabulous ways to watch movies—but do those advancements really put us in a better place as a culture? Today our nation seems to be more interested in finding better ways to entertain us on earth—rather than leave it. Do all of our technological advancements just distract us from finding the 21st century’s version of landing on the moon? Companies like Apple seem to consistently find new ways to keep us absent-minded. It’s hard to find a moment in our day when we aren’t connected to the entire world in a virtual way. Our phones, watches and computers have made it easy for us to update our statuses, download a new song or surf mindlessly through the internet. There is always something within our reach to keep us entertained.
The question might not be if we are still capable of something as monumental as traveling to the moon—the question might be if we have the desire to? Technology today has given us a level of comfort that no generation has had prior. The Space Race was something that united us as a country and Kennedy knew that us besting the Soviet Union during the Cold War would have a positive impact on our country’s morale. There is no doubt that our country could definitely use a morale boost right now. Whether or not we want to put our iPhones down long enough to find that boost seems highly unlikely.