As lovers of technology and slaves to the news cycle, we all get caught up in the next new thing. The cynic in me notes that the 43rd anniversary of the moon landing – an occurrence that changed the course of history with a completeness and intensity that few warmongers have ever been able to induce – is just another moon landing anniversary. It isn’t the 25th or the 50th or the 100th. It’s just something that happened 43 years ago today at about 8pm UTC. In short, two men – born helpless as the rest of us – through time, training, and sheer will, were thrust into space by the greatest minds of our generation and then stepped onto a lunar soil that the New York Times reported as being fine and powdery.
Why, then, commemorate this date? Because, aside from World War II, the space race was the thing that put us firmly on the path of technological advancement we are taking today. Had we not dared when we did, at a time when our technology was woefully primitive, I wager that we would still today think the moon and the stars were out of reach.
That is why this anniversary is so important, and why it is important to remember the things the put us here. In an increasingly wired world, news flashes at us from all angles. Nothing is new, nothing is “cool,” everything is derivative. But as those first sharp bursts of electromagnetic energy passed from a camera on the moon to the waiting ears and eyes of a rapt public, this world of instant everything was born in a blaze of black and white. If we could see what men there were doing, how could we ignore that which was happening down the block or around the world?
The promise of the moon shot is great and the rewards reaped are many. There is still a ways to go. The moon shot was an important beginning and our creativity has expanded from that initial point to bring us behemoths of industry that deal primarily in ephemeral bits, new transportation technologies, and companies dedicated to recreating that first landing and going beyond its meager goals. Man may not live in a sea of tranquility on earth now, but we may one day find it within ourselves to put away fear and pettiness and politics to build a new world on top of the old.