From Kennedy to Obama: America’s Legacy on the Final Frontier
On a crisp January morning in 1986 we watched in horror as an American school teacher and energetic crew mates disintegrated into a fiery ball of atmospheric debris off the coast of Cape Canaveral.
But the American president urged us to be strong. He reminded us of the impossible achievements we had reached because we dared to dream and challenged America to summon the strength to charge forward and boldly explore the final frontier. It was, after all, the American destiny.
“But why, some say, the moon?” Kennedy said during the speech “Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” -Kennedy Moon Speech, September 12, 1962From Kennedy to Nixon, from Reagan to Bush, American presidents have a long and proud history of encouraging their countrymen to face the sky and continue to dream impossible dreams. Even in times of setback, American leaders have urged us never to accept defeat but to press forward without hesitation.
Unfortunately, that’s not President Obama’s idea of the American space legacy.
President Obama is the first president in American history to look at the heavens and ask our children to rein in their dreams.
From the first on the moon to the last, American spacemen Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan have all criticized President Obama’s puny vision of America in space. His dramatically scaled-back blueprint for space exploration could put America in the back seat of the final frontier for the first time since the 1950s. How ironic that the same man who castigated America about a possible “Sputnik moment” would allow us to fulfill that tragic legacy on his watch.
The entire world was better off because America reached the moon in 1969. For us, it marked a new path forward in unity for a country deeply divided by race and war. For repressed comrades behind the Iron Curtain, it sounded the faint siren of freedom just beyond the horizon. For children the world over, it dared us all to dream big dreams.
Kennedy and Reagan spoke of space as a tribute to our nation and its heroes. President Obama managed to turn even Neil Armstrong’s passing into a tribute to himself. Some have questioned whether or not President Obama shares an organically American spirit. At times like these, I find myself wondering if he’s even an earthling.