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Small steps and giant leaps

On Thursday, July 20, 1969 at 3:17 p.m., the Apollo 11 lunar landing module touched down on the moon’s surface. At 10:56 p.m. on that same day, astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin soon joined Armstrong on the moon’s surface. I was an almost eleven-year-old boy who was really glad to be out of school for the summer so I could stay up and watch the incredible event take place. I joined millions of people in being enthralled by the moon landing. The success of the Apollo project should remind us of what we can do when we put our minds to it. As Armstrong stepped from the landing craft’s ladder onto the lunar surface, he said, ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’ The distance from the ladder’s bottom rung to the moon’s surface was small, but it represented a huge leap forward in humanity’s understanding of our place in the universe. For the first time, a human being had set foot on a body in our solar system other than Earth. We’ve had some fascinating unmanned forays into space in the years since Apollo 11. The two Voyager probes were launched in 1977. Voyager 1 collected valuable data as it flew by Saturn. Voyager 2 did the same as it flew by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. In 2015, the New Horizons probe flew by Pluto. New Horizons is still way out there somewhere. Voyager 1 and 2 are still even farther out there. I’ll admit to being disappointed that we’ve not made more progress in sending people into space during the last half century. I hold out hope that we’ll put people on Mars while I’m still around. I’d love to see that happen. You and I may not be able to make a giant leap for humankind as Neil Armstrong did, but we can take small steps forward, and giant leaps for humankind still happen one small step at a time. We need to make a giant leap toward greater peace in the world. You and I can contribute to that leap by taking the small step of listening to and respecting those who think differently than we do. We need to make a giant leap toward protecting democracy and achieving greater decency in our nation. You and I can contribute to that leap by taking the small step of supporting and voting for candidates who will try to do so. We need to make a giant leap toward making quality affordable healthcare available to all Americans. You and I can contribute to that leap by taking the small step of calling our representatives and asking them to work toward doing so. Those are just a few examples. I believe that if enough of us will take enough small steps, we’ll eventually make the giant leaps forward that we need to make.

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