(More Than) 40 Years Out: Tranquility Base Here
On this day in 1969, man set foot on the moon for the very first time. Looking at the photographs the astronauts shot that day, the moon seems like a fairly peaceful place. In fact, they called the landing site “Tranquility Base.”
Back on Earth, things weren’t so tranquil. Americans marched on Washington, D.C., to protest our involvement in the Vietnam War. The story of the My Lai massacre, where women and children were lined up in a ditch and shot, broke in the news. British troops were deployed to try and calm tensions in Northern Ireland. And so on.
It seemed like, on that one Sunday afternoon and evening, everything and everyone in the world just kind of stopped – if only for a few minutes, while two humans kicked up dust on the lunar surface. Many of us watched the shadowy figures on TV, live and in glorious grainy black and white.
Probably nobody really stopped what they were doing, but a teenager in Texas back then thought it would have been really cool if they did. And if we would have paid attention for a while, maybe we would have stopped fighting and yelling long enough share a little bit of wonder and pride in human accomplishment.
For just a minute or two … then we could get right back to killing each other. Which is what happened anyway.
Maybe one day we’ll go back to the moon, but many people will tell you there are infinitely more important ways to spend our time and money. And I suppose they are right. Still, somebody is going to get back there eventually. Tranquility Base will always be there, ready and waiting for us to start dreaming again.