Like many people my age around the world, July 20, 1969, is one of the days I will never forget. I was 14 years old and had just graduated from the 8th grade at Our Lady of Peace grade school in Clarks Summit, PA.
My Dad decided to take the family on our longest road trip, from Clark’s Summit, Pennsylvania to Denver, Colorado. For a kid that who had never been anywhere beside NY and PA, this was a BIG DEAL!! We were going to see a lot of states and the Rocky Mountains!!!
We left Scranton on July 18 and on July 20, 1969, the Kraemer family arrived in Des Moines, Iowa just as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were about to walk on the moon. We checked into a small motel, and our eyes were glued to a small black and white television as Armstrong took the first step on the moon and proclaimed, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Wow!! It was truly surreal!! Was this really happening!!!! My Dad summarized the day very simply: “Harry, you landed in Des Moines, Iowa at the same time Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.”
It was seven years earlier, on September 12, 1962, that President John Kennedy proclaimed that America was going to put a man on the moon. At the time, I can remember thinking “he may be the President, but that sounds absolutely crazy”.
What an amazing example of having a goal and making it happen!!
Okay, so of course the 50th anniversary five days ago of this momentous event caused me to stop, slow down, and get in a very reflective mood. It is clear that as human beings we are capable of doing amazing things if we work together. Yes, I realize this may sound idealistic, but if we can put a man on the moon, shouldn’t we be able to solve global poverty and work together as a global community on preserving our planet for our children and grandchildren?
Maybe we could spend more time understanding one another and improving global education than finding ways to kill one another.
As I reflect on these topics, it becomes clear to me that there is a group of people that need to focus on these issues and opportunities. As I often mention in my classes and leadership talks around the world, we usually refer to the people that will make this happen as “those guys”, some magical group of other people. However, if we really take the time to self reflect and realize we are all on this earth for a “blink of an eye”, hopefully many of us will realize that WE are “THOSE GUYS”!!!!!
Here’s wishing all of you a wonderful weekend!!
Wonderful story Harry, thank you for sharing. It was crazy to imagine! Those guys really (and gals) really did something spectacular. Regarding our leaders doing good things, as we sometimes doubt “those guys”, this story of yours reminds me of my son’s Daniel’s quote; “sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine”. Alan Turing