I Dreamed Of Being An Astronaut

Blog 1265 – 02.15.2019

I Dreamed Of Being An Astronaut

Like many boys and girls my age I dreamed of being an astronaut. I just finished watching the TV mini-series on Netflix called Mars and all those dreams came back to me again. They rolled a TV in our class so we could see Alan Shepherd make that first flight into space atop a Red Stone Rocket. They actual had one of the rocket capsule just like his, Gus Grissom’s and a John Glenn’s at the Krystal Burger grand opening just a couple of blocks from my boyhood home. Yes, I and many boys and girls of my generation dreamed of being astronauts.

That is what I thought about every time I saw the Air Force recruiting commercial where the poem High Flight was dramatically read aloud:

“High Flight

John Gillespie Magee, Jr

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there

I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air…

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

Where never lark or even eagle flew —

And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”

The recurring theme of the Mars series is that when we landed on the moon in 1969 we thought it was just going to be a stepping stone to the stars and to Mars especially. Wernher Von Braun, the German scientist who invented the V2 Rocket for the Nazi but came to work in our missile program after the war from a boy always wanted to help get mankind to Mars. When President Nixon chose the less adventuresome Shuttle Program over the Mission To Mars Von Braun quit NASA, retired, and died of cancer a couple of years later. For forty years we did low altitude circles in space, like the children of Israel who because they were afraid of “giants in the land” wandered around in the wilderness for forty years and actually they all had to die out before a new generation, up for the adventure, could go into the promised land.

This year we will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing many of us who were so thrilled to have seen it live on TV are disappointed that we seem to have stopped short, not gone further, and like Von Braun, we still dream of there being mankind on Mars. Do boys and girls still dream of being astronauts?

Your friend and fellow traveler,

David White

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