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Friday, July 19, 2019

A Musical Salute To Magnificent Desolation

July 20, 1969 has been in the news so much lately that I'm sure even people who don't care about what happened on that day fifty years ago know its significance. If you don't, shame on you.

My favorite words spoken that great day were not Neil Armstrong's. I've always thought Buzz Aldrin came up with the perfect description for what he saw on the lunar landscape. He called it "magnificent desolation."

I've always loved the space program. I'm old enough to remember when the USSR rocketed Yuri Gagarin into orbit in 1961 followed by the USA soon after with Alan Shephard's brief fifteen minute jaunt, but I'm too young to remember Sputnik, the Soviet satellite that America found so disconcerting when it was launched back in 1957.

Our major rivals may have beaten us to the punch with the first satellite and the first manned flight but we won the big one when Armstrong and Aldrin landed in the Sea of Tranquility that wonderful Sunday afternoon.

I find it sad that some people have even turned this celebration of humanity's crowning scientific achievement into a controversy by complaining that the launch wasn't inclusive enough, that there wasn't enough diversity among the people who worked on the space program. Unfortunately, in 1969 that was inevitably true and if we could change things I'm sure many of us would. However, let's save that discussion for another day and thank Armstrong, Aldrin, and Michael Collins for their thrilling ride with a musical salute that crosses multiple genres. Enjoy!

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