Editor’s Note: As the clock winds down on The Vindicator’s final edition Aug. 31,
Editor’s Note: As the clock winds down on The Vindicator’s final edition Aug. 31, we’re taking an occasional look back on how this 150-year-old news-paper memorialized in its editorials important events in the history of the nation and the world. Today, on the 50th anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon, we republish the editorial of July 21, 1969.
‘A Giant Leap for Mankind’
Man has taken his first fateful steps into the unknown. With the words, “The Eagle has landed,” Astronaut Neil Armstrong climaxed one of history’s greatest moments, signalling even more incredible events with his first words from the moon: “That’s one small step for man, a giant leap for mankind.”
The hours of anticipation and realization shared by a spellbound world welded diverse peoples with common emotions of awe, admiration, elation and astonishment.
The journey of Apollo 11 heralds the maturity of mankind, giving conquest a new meaning, revealing a potential that will emphasize the better nature of man.
Still, the mission’s primary success raises questions that will not be answered for some time. The reason is simple enough. No other voyage of discovery has been so fraught with so much significance, touching as it does not only man’s relation to the physical universe, but also on our understanding of God and His works.
It is yet to be determined whether the landing is a major turning point in the development of man’s creativity or merely an extension of his destructiveness deeper into the solar system. Is it the beginning of a great new era or only, as some contend, an expensive diversion from unpleasant earthly realities?
Aware that scientific and technological prestige comprise vital ingredients of power, the late President John F. Kennedy made a basically political decision when he told Congress in 1961, “I believe we should go to the moon.” Then, in emphasizing his own impatience and embarrassment at being No. 2 in space exploration to Russia, he added a deadline: “Before this decade is out.”
Today in the throes of pride and wonder, few begrudge the $24 billion spent to dispatch Astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins on the epic journey which Mr. Kennedy correctly envisioned as the most significantly impressive project of the century.
Unlike earth-bound explorations generated by lust for conquest or precious materials, the lunar search has become motivated by the search for more intangible riches, basically knowledge.
The returns can’t be measured in terms of adventure or technical achievement. Man’s courage and scientific prowess are proven capabilities.
The great problem has been the misuse of technology. His is a sorry diary of the defiling of good tools for evil uses. That is why the spiritual aspects of the moon enterprise take precedence over fiscal expenditures and physical hazards.
Apollo 11 would not have been possible had it not been for the determination and loyalty which the national commitment involved. The moral motivation which spelled success can now be applied without reservation to all mankind’s challenges.
Out of this landing comes the confirmation that man can rise above petty rivalries to reach beyond his grasp in an effort to overcome any problem that plagues his being.