The door opened and a little light peered into the dark bedroom where my sister and I shared a bunk bed. My dad peeked in, “Hey girls—wanna go see something cool?”
And off my brothers and sister and I went to the middle of nowhere to watch the Perseid meteor shower that rolls around every August.
I remember staring up in the pitch black and watching those beautiful meteors streak across the sky. It was incredible, and I love my dad for taking us.
My dad’s always been fascinated with outer space—and thanks to him, I grew up loving it too.
Yeah, I’m the nerd that looks for the meteors every year, drives out into a cornfield at 1 am to watch a little dot of light (the international space station) cross the sky, walks outside in my pajamas at midnight in the freezing cold to see the blood moon, downloads an app that maps the sky so you can find all the planets—the whole nine. Heck, if I could get past the fact that I absolutely do not *need* one, I’d buy a telescope.
If you can believe it, as a kid this writer even wanted to work for NASA—until of course I realized how atrociously awful my math skills were.
It wasn’t just space’s limitless horizon that draws me to it, it’s our country’s historic connection to it.
This morning as I went out for my morning trek around the lake, for kicks I pulled up the Apollo 13 soundtrack and did a little thinking. (More on that in a moment)
I swelled with pride as I thought about how we got all three of those guys back, and I swelled with pride even further when I thought about how they were following in the massive footsteps of Apollo 11, and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s jaw-dropping accomplishment.
Allow me to pivot for a second.
As I tied my running shoes on this morning, I saw a logo: Nike. I thought about how they had just selected one of the most controversial figures in American life today—Colin Kaepernick—as the poster boy for their famed “Just Do It” ad campaign.
Kaepernick’s antics don’t bring us together; they’ve torn us apart.
A cousin of mine ran a Tough Mudder race a few days back, and told me about how one of the race organizers (who happened to be black) gave an inspiring talk to the runners about helping others and how they can take what they learn on the course out into the world to help others—regardless of who everyone is. And despite this productive discourse, a black runner still decided to take a knee during the national anthem.
How … unifying.
And look, I’m not here to talk about Kaepernick specifically—though you can read what I think here.
But, keep Kaepernick and what he’s started in mind as we pivot back to outer space—or rather, a movie about it.
“First Man” tells the story of the Apollo 11 moon landing—and deliberately leaves out the moment Neil Armstrong planted it on the surface of the moon, because, as Ryan Gosling (the actor playing Armstrong) said, “I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it.”
In other words, it’s not America’s. It’s the world’s.
And no, Vanity Fair, it’s not “dumb” to be deeply bothered by this omission. It’s hardly minor and given Gosling’s statement, it’s far from an artistic choice. It is extremely significant.
Following in lock-step with the Colin Kaepernicks of the world and their march towards bringing the United States down a notch (or ten), this was Hollywood’s way of taking a knee.
And yes, to the countless op-eds pointing out that the flag does appear in the movie, you’re right. But they purposely left out the part showing an American firmly planted it where no human had ever walked before.
Omitting that act mattered.
Just as the Americans battled to keep the enormous flag upright at Fort McHenry; just as the Marines planted it at the top of Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi; just as NYFD fire fighters raised a flag over the rubble at Ground Zero … the moment matters.
The moment the flag is raised carries deep meaning each and every time.
Neil Armstrong’s raising of the flag on the moon send a message around the world that even though this moon landing was (in his own words) a giant leap for mankind, it was America that did it. America led the way. America broke through the barrier. It was a key moment in space exploration (and a major shot in the arm for a weary nation), but even more importantly it was a breakthrough in the fight against Communist Soviet Union, and the battle for the ideological direction of the entire globe.
A starker contrast wasn’t possible. On the one hand, freedom, capitalism, a free market—a people governed by a government they voluntarily chose. On the other, a totalitarian dictatorship bent on spreading collectivism and control.
Planting that flag on the moon was more than just cool, it was a critical move.
Today, as radical socialist after radical socialist after radical socialist rises to the top of political discourse in this country, we’re faced with the same choice. It doesn’t end in nuclear war like the Cold War threatened to, but we’re battling for the soul of the country nonetheless.
As one commentator recently put it (and I’m paraphrasing here), in the age of social media and information warfare, we’re fighting off those things which wants us to move away from the “essence” of what makes us America.
And no, our essence is NOT race. It’s not “jingoism.” It’s freedom.
The same freedom that brought us from horse-drawn carriages to walking on the moon.
The flag matters.
The flag matters because it represents a nation which has lifted millions out of poverty, corrected millennia worth of racial wrongs, sacrificed countless lives in the service of others—and, in the context of the Cold War, defeated an empire bent on world domination and forever changed the course of the globe.
Planting it matters because it signifies the “WHO” and the “WHEN” and the “WHERE” in a world where ideologies and nations are always vying for the top spot.
When we purposely omit WHO did it, we are teaching our children to ignore WHY it mattered. And look, it’s not that we are superior to other human beings.
But the ideas are.
Just take a look around the world, and throughout the pages of history, and tell me when a people have been freer and more prosperous.
Taking a figurative knee by leaving out that pivotal moment on the moon, or taking a literal knee during the national anthem does NOTHING to bring us together.
It’s another sledgehammer blow to the heart and soul of this country.
Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree