Project Apollo

(Originally posted on March 11, 2011)

There are a few things that I always go back to when I need to uplift my spirit.  When I need to motivate and encourage myself about life, humanity, and goodness of the people, those are the things I get the help from.  I suppose everyone has those “things”— they may be some feel-good movies and/or books.  Good sermons and speeches can do that too.  Usually we take them for granted and we don’t always remember them, but when you revisit them, you sense your spirit soars.

I’ve already talked about a few of those here already.  Believe it or not, I get inspired by watching football.  Certainly, great individual plays can inspire you, but more often than not, I get inspired when I recognize the team effort behind a great play.  When I see that all eleven guys on one side of the ball working together to execute those plays, the sense of trust and emotional unity that I see on the field totally get me.  There’s nothing, NOTHING like watching football at the Lincoln Financial Field— when you can see all 22 players working so hard at every snap and every kick… that’s quite special.

In one of those essays here, I mentioned one thing that inspires me— that is the American endeavor to land a man on the moon from early ’60s to early ’70s.  With the early leadership of President John F. Kennedy, this country did something that seemed so improbable.  Even with today’s technology, it is no easy task.  Since they launched Sam the monkey into the sky in a Little Joe solid-fueled booster rocket in 1959, this country sent mankind to another celestial body in just 10 years.  Roughly 400,000 people worked together for one goal; to land a man on the moon and bring him home safely.  Can you imagine the scale of it?  From the most visible part, NASA administrators and astronauts, to the most invisible part in parachute sewers and MIT system programmers, everyone worked together so tirelessly to make it a reality, even with some serious obstacles including the heart-rending tragedy of Apollo 1.  Sure, some say it was solely to beat the Russians to the moon in the space race, but nothing unified this world (not just the US but the whole world) like the event of moon landing in 1969 in recent history.

What’s fascinating are those behind-the-scene stories from Mercury, Gemini and Apollo projects, including aforementioned Dr. Lee Silver’s field lectures that inspired those selected gung-ho test pilots and fighter jocks (a.k.a. astronauts)  to be good lunar field observers.  Also, I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult a task it must have been to design a first “true” spacecraft, the Apollo Lunar Module, that operates only in outer space and lands on the moon surface nobody had ever seen in person!

Dreams, technology, imagination, and talent were all there then, and there they are now.  What may be missing today are the leadership and willingness to accept risks to achieve great goals.  We may never experience anything like Apollo in our lifetime, but still I hope we will see, once again, people come together and make today’s imagination a reality of tomorrow under a great leadership.  People coming together for a common goal— that’s inspiring to me.

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