During every lifetime there are those days you just know will go down in history, for good and bad. Just in our lifetime, November 22, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated and September 11, the Twin Towers go down -- both evoking painful memories.
But then there's today, July 20, forever remembered as the day Mankind first set foot on the moon. And now, also the day Jeff Bezos successfully ventured to space as a private citizen, one week after Richard Branson did the same thing.
A new Space Age has dawned, and we are witness to what could be every bit as momentous as the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, almost 120 years previous.
It's an especially thrilling event, not only for the world, but also for our eight-year-old granddaughter, Cate, and all the kids of her generation. They have a real chance to take that "road to space" that Bezos referenced, dreaming new dreams and expanding their horizons beyond our imaginations.
Predictably, there are the naysayers who want to rain on the parade. Just like there were when JFK pledged to land a man on the moon, and NASA was created. Why go to space at all? Don't we have enough problems here to worry about? Can't that money be better spent on Earth? It's just billionaires playing with their toys and trying to one-up the other.
Putting aside for a moment the literally hundreds of new products and innovations that have come out of the space program, which have improved everyday life for all of us, are we really ready to stop trying to reach for the stars?
Ask yourself, are you ready to give up your cell phone and go back to rotary dial handsets? The Model T got you around, do we need better, safer cars? Sure, progress in any field brings its own new set of problems. But if makes life easier, or better, or points the way to brighter tomorrows, it's worth our investment.
It would be wonderful if we could solve our earthly problems with money. But sadly, no amount of money is likely to end homelessness, solve hunger or stop global conflicts. People don't even have enough common sense to get vaccinated against a potentially deadly virus, when the vaccines are readily available, and free.
Visionaries like Bezos, Branson and Elon Musk are always looking at the bigger picture, realizing space holds the key for Mankind's long-term survival as an ever-growing population strains finite resources and climate change pushes our planet to the brink. Will their efforts benefit them financially? Sure, and they should. Just like the industrial titans of the last century spun up the oil industry, railroads and electricity. Government oversight, both then and now, is also required. That's a given.
As a species, the instinct to survive is deeply imprinted in our DNA. Nature made sure of that. The commercial utilization of space is one more way we hope to ensure humans stick around for the next chapter of our millions-of-years-old story. Thank God for the Bezos's and Bransons of the world. They may not have left footprints in the lunar dust, but their accomplishments this week will have a lasting imprint on our futures.
Cate, I can only imagine what's ahead in your lifetime. Reach for the stars. They are there for the taking.
Yes, I know it's spelled like "Jerry." No, I don't know why it's pronounced "Gary."