Two Historic Anniversaries, One Lesson

What we can learn from going to the Moon and going to Hell.

One Small Step

The story of the first Moon landing is the happier of the two, but offers no less insight. Not a single person in July 1969 could be sure that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins would make a successful journey to the Moon and back. President Richard Nixon’s speechwriter, William Safire, went so far as to draft a speech for the event that the mission ended in disaster. An excerpt:

Earth and Moon to scale. Source: Imgur
Lunar Orbit Rendezvous explained by John Houbolt. Source: NASA

In the Trenches

The sentiment of shared humanity in space exploration stands in stark contrast to our other anniversary. A popular saying in 1914 was that the war would be “over by Christmas.” It lasted four muddy, hellish years. One needs only listen to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast masterpiece Blueprint for Armageddon (all six parts) to understand that the First World War was incredibly brutal during its opening stages, and was, at that time, unprecedented in its mechanized weaponry and industrial scale. Writing in August, 1914, the British writer H.G. Wells called it “The War That Will End War,” arguing:

Source: Daily Mail
Source: They Shall Not Grow Old

2018 winner of the Dalton Camp Award for essay-writing. M.A. Political Science. I'll go to the mat for the Oxford comma.

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