Gene Cernan died Monday.
If you grew up in the 1960s, this may have hit you as hard as it hit me. Cernan was the last man to walk on the moon. He even drew his daughters name in lunar dust which is still viable.
Times were different back then. We had sports stars but no one was as popular as those original astronauts. Every kid in school knew their names.
Their challenge to school kids like me: physical fitness and work hard in school.
President Kennedy challenged us to go to the moon because it was hard. We went with men and women who were relentlessly driven. Computers were weak and new. We did it with #2 pencils and paper.
Our family used to drive to Clearlake in the Houston area. The reason: on every street you’d see an astronaut.
We saw John Glenn watering his yard one Sunday.
I don’t think he was as happy to see us as we were him.
NASA was chocked full of my fellow southeast Texans who were called to greatness sometimes by just answering wanted adds in the Houston papers which were looking for mathematicians and engineers.
The nation was a team when it came to NASA and our quest to beat the Russians to the moon, someone asked me recently why it was so important to beat the Russians.
I said it was because we were Americans. We desired to be exceptional.
And remember Christmas Eve when the astronauts read the Bible live on TV while orbiting the moon?
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
The women in the room cried. The men in the room left, so they could cry, too.
Oh, how I miss those days.
Godspeed, Gene Cernan.
That’s my point of view, what’s yours?
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook me at KETK Neal Barton.