Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
We are marking the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing. I suppose anything that has occurred could be considered part of history and therefore “historic” but the term is typically saved for those moments that are worthy of notice, conversation, celebration or shame.
Certainly, we are celebrating an American achievement of landing on the moon. It is no accident that America was the country that landed on the moon. We were united, optimistic and free.
When looking back, it is sometimes easy to define eras. We pick a moment where everything after seemed different than it had been. Of course, real life flows seamlessly but in hindsight things look more like sharp turns and demarcations. But the moon landing was a moment that’s especially easy to point to.
But what are we celebrating? Or more pointedly, who are we celebrating? I look at those famous photos and I wonder if we are those people anymore.
I wonder if the America we know now is that same America? Do we remain a united, optimistic and free people? The very answers would reveal how divided we are.
It’s been 50 years since that amazing spectacle, made accessible by television which offered millions a front row seat to history. Never before had the world been so brought together. The impossible was made possible by technology, hope and courage.
And it seems to me that so many technological advances came about quickly in the decades following. The way we live now would be almost incomprehensible to the way our grandparents lived. But are we the same? Are we that same people who flung themselves headlong into space to be the first to land on the moon? Are we still the country that would unite behind such a grand venture? Or are we perhaps more like the picture of Dorian Gray where we somehow look better now but are rotten and corrupt on the inside.
We all know the country was not perfect in 1969. But so many Americans were united in the hope for a better tomorrow. We were united in hope, in faith that God blessed our country and we owed it to him to work toward its betterment.
I fear we’re not the same. And I fear that we will never be. I don’t think we believe the same things anymore. Many don’t believe in the founding documents of our country. Statues of our founding fathers are torn down regularly. We are torn on the right to bear arms and the very right to life itself.
Certainly the country has been divided in the past but I don’t sense any hope or desire for unity anymore. I see each side desperate to win. To conquer.
Are we capable of such a great national feat now, 50 years later? I don’t believe we are. And that saddens and frightens me. A country torn in two is incapable of great feats.
A country divided is capable only of historic horrors.