Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Moon Walk - 40 years ago

I know this post will date me, but I remember the evening of July 20, 1969 very well. I was back east with my mother’s family, sitting in my uncle’s living room. We all gathered about the television set to watch history being made.

Neil Armstrong emerged from the lunar capsule. “That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind,” he said to the world via the radio transmission almost 240,000 miles away, as he left his foot print in the lunar dust - the first man on the moon.

This feat consummated the space race between the two Cold War super powers, the United States and the former Soviet Union, which started more than a decade before the moon walk.

October 1957, the sighting of Soviet satellite, Sputnik, inspired the son of a West Virginian coal miner. Homer Hickam and his friends, overcoming many obstacles, designed rockets and won science fairs, for which they were awarded scholarships to go to college.

Homer Hickam wrote about this in his book “Rocket Boys” released in 1998. In 1999, a movie was made, an anagram of the original title - “October Sky.”

The 30th anniversary of the moon walk, July 1999, Homer Hickam’s Wall Street Journal article - Time to Be Great Again - reflects on this moment of history: Time to Be Great Again

Much has been and will be said of this 40th anniversary, but this "Rocket Boy" said it very well ten years ago.

Related links:

Photos from
Neil Armstrong On The Moon:

Homer Hickam’s official site:
Time to Be Great Again:
October Sky:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 1776 & July 1863

On July 4, 1776, Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, written primarily by Thomas Jefferson. Adopted by the Continental Congress, this Declaration announced that the thirteen American colonies were now independent states and no longer a part of the British Empire.

One of the best-known sentences in the English language is the second sentence of the Declaration:

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Our inalienable Rights do not come from the government nor from the people, but from God. Since no government or person can grant us these rights, no government or person can take these rights from us.

My favorite flash video of Independence Day can be found at Dayspring ecards for the 4th of July: America's Freedom story

Four score and seven years later ...

In July 1863, the United States was engaged in the Civil War, the worst war in our history. The Battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863), the battle with the largest number of casualties in that war, is often described as the turning point in favor of the Union.

On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln gave a two minute speech at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

President Lincoln began where Thomas Jefferson left off:

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. …”

For the entire speech,

In his short speech, Lincoln redefined the Civil War as a struggle not merely for the Union, but -

“… that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The Gettysburg Address has since then been regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American history.

Before 1863, “the United States” was considered a plural proper noun - as in the United States are expanding with the acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase. After the Civil War, "the United States" became a single proper noun - as in the United States has grown to 50 states.

E pluribus unum, “Out of Many, One.”

Best wishes this Fourth of July and be safe!

Related links:

Photos from
Declaration of Independence: