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America Needs Heroes Now More Than Ever
It was a quiet and rainy Saturday afternoon, and the weather prevented getting outside of the house and doing much of anything constructive. The kind of day to slouch down onto the sofa with a blanket, some popcorn, and soda pop, and just vegetate.
I had by now overdosed on watching the Olympic Games and found myself mindlessly flipping through the channels on my TV, looking for something, anything to pass the time. I landed on a channel showing the movie Apollo 13, the film about NASA’s 1970 ill-fated lunar landing mission.
I started watching the movie, probably for the fifteenth time. Almost enough times to anticipate the next line of dialogue the actors were going to say before they said it. As I was watching, it dawned on me. It was clear to me that what is ailing America right now is that we don’t have any heroes anymore.
There’s no sense of wonderment, no magic in our collective lives that the American space program, and the manned moon missions in particular provided. I know it’s certainly true of me growing up, but most Americans were caught up in the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Around the water cooler at work, people would stand together and chat about our most recent achievements in space that they had just seen on the television. We marveled at those men in their silver flight suits who had “the right stuff.”
Nowadays people just go about the daily business of surviving, with nothing that really binds us together as a nation anymore. There are no more water coolers in the office. Everyone sits in their little cubicle surrounded and separated by little walls, staring blankly at computer screens. Or at their cell phones.
Think about it for a second. The iPhone that we hold in our hands and controls our lives very likely has more computing capabilities contained inside it than the computers on the Apollo space-crafts that took our astronauts to the moon. The astronauts and the people who sent them to the moon had slide rules and pencils, whereas a ‘pocket computer’ in the palm of our hands is just a common household item to us.
Perhaps the answer to what has caused our collective societal malaise is the very fact that we have advanced so much that we simply don’t recognize the challenges we have faced as a nation anymore. Everything is too easy nowadays. Life has gotten boring. We don’t have astronauts suiting up and pushing the edge of the envelope, not knowing for sure if they’ll be coming home from outer space or not. Nothing was certain back then. Now it seems the only uncertainty in life is whether this great American experiment will actually survive. The short answer to that question is that it won’t⏤unless things change.
Barack Obama himself made it pretty clear what he thought when he refused to acknowledge ‘American Exceptionalism.’ As far as he was concerned, America is no more exceptional than any other place on earth. But if that’s true, it’s only because of people like him and his political party who have done all they could to tear America down. All they seem to be capable of is to keep adding letters of the alphabet to the protected classes, and tearing down statues.
There once was a time when Americans looked to the sky and saw heroes. Nowadays, they just look at the cell phones in their hands and see nothing but a collection of emojis and LOL’s. There’s no appreciation or even interest anymore in what once helped to engender our national pride.
We need to return to the heady days of men walking on the moon. To a time when we saw wonderment and pride in the great accomplishments that our country has achieved. Whether it was pushing further out into space, or seeing our athletes standing on the international stage with hands across their hearts while our National Anthem played, as gold medals dangled from their necks.
Apollo 13 showed us what we are capable of achieving. It wasn’t a story about our failures, but a celebration of our success. And America is in dire need of having real heroes once again. Something that is definitely missing nowadays.
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