One small step for man — giant lesson for us

This week 50 years ago on July 20, 1969, I was sitting in the living room with my parents and five brothers watching Walter Cronkite and the first moon landing on our black and white TV.

There was a lot of excitement, tension (we didn’t know how things would work out) and pride to be an American. We were glued to the TV set. It was almost hard to believe that we were watching live pictures from another world.

I remember going outside, looking up at the moon and thinking, “Wow, there are Americans walking around up there.”

We weren’t sure at the time if they could get back off the moon when it was time to leave. The astronauts were a long way from home and there wasn’t room for error.

They succeeded!

Many of you reading this were not born at the time of the first moon landing or were too young to remember. I still remember my science teacher telling us about all of the problems we would have to solve before we could go to the moon and return. I remember thinking, “We’re Americans, we will figure it out.”

The 1960s was a very challenging decade for our nation. We were divided over the Vietnam War. We were in the middle of the Cold War with Russia. The USA started the Space Race way behind Russia. The Russians had more powerful rockets than we did. Russia was the first country to put a satellite into orbit. They put a dog in orbit and, on April 12, 1961, they put the first man in orbit. The USA did two sub-orbital flights right after that and, in August 1961, a Russian cosmonaut was in space for 17 orbits. Finally, on February 20, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. He completed three orbits before returning safely to Earth.

On Sept. 12, 1962, at Rice University in Houston, Texas, President John F. Kennedy inspired us when he said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.”

He acknowledged we were behind the Russians. President Kennedy had a challenging positive vision of the future and set a high goal to land on the moon before the end of the decade and return home safely.

It became a national passion. We had to develop materials and technology that didn’t exist in 1962. There were major setbacks, like losing three astronauts in a space capsule fire. We all knew quitting wasn’t an option and failure wasn’t an option. Finally, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon and said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

What does this mean for you and your organization? What does it mean for Shale Crescent USA and others who want to create good jobs and raise the standard of living for the people of this region?

To reach the moon we needed a leader with a vision. He set a goal with a specific time frame. Everyone knew what the goal was. We need to do the same.

The leader had passion for achieving his goal and the belief it could be accomplished. We must have a passion for our dreams.

The leader took action. Following the goal setting portion of the speech, President Kennedy had very specific action steps. He talked about the money we needed to spend. He described the manned spacecraft center in Houston that would be created, the rocket we would build and the building to house it. He described the next steps and actions to be taken.

Everything he described in that speech happened. We must do the same. We can’t just talk. We need to act if we are to make this region a better, cleaner more prosperous place to live.

He formed a diverse team of experts to achieve the goal. Everyone must know and believe the dream can be achieved. It must be a team effort. We must do likewise. A diverse team going after a goal they believe in is powerful.

As a nation, we persevered. President Kennedy did not live to see his goal accomplished. It could easily have died with him. He was able to inspire a nation. The dream became bigger than one man.

Our dream should be the same. There were many challenges and setbacks, but we worked through them. The nation as a whole believed in the dream. We must do the same. We will be faced with challenges. There will be setbacks, maybe even failures. We must learn from them and get back up and go after the dream. Big dreams are hard, and they make us better when we go after them.

We are Americans. We can do anything we put our minds and efforts to. We put a man on the moon. We went from energy crisis and energy poverty to the greatest energy-producing nation on the planet with the cleanest environment in my lifetime in less than 10 years. We can create the most prosperous and cleanest region in the world.

Do you believe?

Thoughts to ponder.

Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com is the director of marketing and sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a master’s in environmental engineering and over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. He is the author of four books and numerous published articles.

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