So on this occasion I thought I might be getting away with something. Maybe they hadn't seen me and I was about to crack some sort of adult code. I might learn some of the mysterious ways of the adults in my world and begin to more clearly understand them. I don't remember anyone saying why we were gathered here, but everyone was excited. It is possible that no one told me because I was youngest and assumed that I would not understand. It is possible that someone told me and I don't remember. I guess it doesn't really matter. I was there and in position to view a historic event.
On our family television television set, Walter Cronkite gave some perspective to the event. I don't know what he said-he did not interest me (although I recognized that anytime I heard his voice he had such authority that my parents would not allow he and I to talk at the same time). There was a sudden quiet among the crowd and even Cronkite's voice went silent. Through the silence I heard a static-y voice coming from outer space-to be specific there was a voice coming from the moon! I strained to see around all the guests and saw a person who looked more like the Pillsbury dough boy than a man. He bounced/floated from the ladder of Apollo 11 to the surface of the moon. The American flag planted on the surface of the moon stood straight out as though it had been starched. An astronaut saluted it and playfully bounce/floated around for the camera. The famous words Neil Armstrong spoke that day did not burn into my memory like the pictures did. In that one moment it seemed nothing was impossible. As Americans, we could do anything. More specifically, I felt I could do anything. With a team on earth in Houston and a president who held fast to the idea that space travel was good for the country, our futures were as limitless as the universe.
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Fast forward to October 13, 2014 a full 45 years after that gathering in my childhood home to another astronaut who inspires me. In the movie I Want to be an Astronaut, Blair Mason has dreamed of becoming an astronaut his whole life. He is clearly the future of the country-smart, driven and purposeful-he is the epitome of youthful ambition. The dreams of the country should be parallel to Blair's dreams. However, the big dream of manned space travel and planetary exploration has dimmed. Our investment in NASA has diminished. In this movie David Ruck reminds me of that feeling of limitless possibility from my childhood, shows the importance of pursuing a passion, and reminds us all that "Some dreams are too big to stay on the planet." This film is not simply about space and astronauts, it is also about American heroes. We all have the potential to become a hero for our country by bringing our best to what we do every single day. Not a bad message for a 40 minute film.
As a bonus, the director and producer of I Want to be an Astronaut is an alumni of Whitehall Schools. David has made a film that debuted aboard the International Space Station and gained widespread acclaim for becoming a spokesman for the big dream. He brought this film back to his hometown and its message for all 468 Whitehall Middle School students who viewed it.
He encouraged all our students to dream big, work hard, and pursue a passion.
He reminded the adults that the future needs to be worthy of the most ambitious goals of our children.
Below is a quote from David's Facebook page the day after W.M.S screened his movie: