JULY 20, 1969: THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
By Christopher G. Adamo
This nation however, was hardly a tranquil place during that tumultuous era. The Vietnam War was at its peak, and the antiwar/antiAmerica forces back home were in their prime, ravaging one traditional institution after another. As an appalled majority looked on in relative silence, too stunned and disbelieving to speak out against the ensuing disaster of cultural revolution, the malignant forces of Leftwing Liberalism went into high gear.
For their own part, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin had to deal with a couple of hair-raising last minute emergencies in order to achieve a successful landing. Though, at that time, it was the most sophisticated flying machine ever built, the Lunar Module’s total computing power was considerably less than that of today’s average automobile. And, at a crucial moment, its computer overloaded. Then, on “final approach,” Armstrong had to perform an emergency maneuver to avoid crashing into a field of boulders, nearly expending the vehicle’s fuel before navigating safely to the moon’s surface. But the technological effort required to get there, and the true significance of the feat, extended far beyond such aeronautical heroics.
Twelve years prior to the epic journey of Apollo 11, an object barely larger than a watermelon filled the entire Western world with indescribable dread. With an announcement by the Soviet Union that Sputnik 1 had been successfully orbited, American military strategists realized that a technological deficit was developing which could spell doom for America in the face of an onslaught of spaceborne Soviet weapons. The “space race” was on, dominated for the first few years by one loudly trumpeted Soviet achievement after another.
But in late May of 1961, buoyed by Alan Shepard’s successful fifteen minute sub-orbital flight (an accomplishment which, in reality, amounted to slightly more than a “human cannonball” act), President John F. Kennedy gave a speech in which he made the now-famous commitment for America to send a man to the moon before the end of the decade. Eight years and two months later, that pipe-dream was a reality.
Unfortunately, the unparalleled successes of America’s space program were effected against the backdrop of previously unimaginable social transformation being propagated by the American political and cultural Left. So rapid and severe was this transformation that, even before Americans had successfully navigated the quarter-million miles to the moon, their feat was being treated with a rash of derision and cynicism. Citing the $24 billion spent to put a man on the moon as proof of American insensitivity to the poor, much criticism was leveled at the United States government, and often from the very same individuals who, only a few years prior, had lauded Soviet space achievements as a clear indication of the superiority of Marxism.
In truth, during the early 1960s, the Soviets had every intention of beating Americans in the moon race. By mid-decade, several catastrophic mishaps within the Soviet space program made this dream an impossibility, thus forcing their propaganda machine to shift from touting the superiority of their technology to the heightened morality of their social programs. And, of course, American Liberals dutifully followed the cue. Sadly, by the time of the moon landing, many prominent Americans were actually expressing embarrassment and regret over the cost of the venture.
Within this clouded context, it should be understood that Armstrong and Aldrin weren’t merely space pilots or even explorers. Rather, they were the preeminent combatants in nothing less than a war for the future of America. And unlike the notable struggles in the jungles of Southeast Asia, this war was largely being fought by aerospace engineers and manufacturers, its victory being the fruit of their labors, seen hurtling into space from Cape Canaveral.
Though it would be two decades before the collapse of the USSR, America’s successful conquest of the moon marked the beginning of the end for Soviet dreams of technological domination over the West. While far too many among younger Americans disregard the importance of VE and VJ days, few who had to endure the hardships and sacrifices required to secure victory in Europe and Japan, could ever understate their significance. Likewise, the successful endeavor to reach the moon before the end of the 1960’s should never have been trivialized, as the political and cultural Left has done to so many capstones of American greatness.
So flags should wave proudly across this land in commemoration of July 20, 1969. It was the day America won the Cold War.
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