I watched The Right Stuff over the weekend. I thought back to the days when we had heroes in the sky.
If you would have asked a ten-year old me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you, with complete confidence, I wanted to be an astronaut – a Star Voyager. Or at the very minimum a pilot. I wanted to fly jets. Ah, the dreams of a ten-year old that faded away with childhood. I embraced rock and roll, and floundered in the turmoil of the sixties. By the time I arrived in high school, rebellion dogged my every step, and what should have been the best years of my life became kind of a drag.
Today marks the 49th year since star voyager, Scott Carpenter, became the second man to orbit the earth in his ship, Aurora 7. Lots of stuff going on in 1962 — Kennedy was still in the White House, Steinbeck won the Nobel prize for literature, Axel Rose and Eddie Izzard were born — Eleanor Roosevelt died. I was 8 and didn’t have a clue.
I didn’t follow my dreams but over the years my love of the space program never died. My son was born the day the first space shuttle landed. My heart fractured on the tragedies of Challenger and Columbia.
Today I have mixed emotions knowing the shuttle fleet will soon be history. And then I smile thinking about the next generation of star voyagers standing on a playground somewhere looking up at the sky and dreaming.
To them I would only say…. “Follow your dreams, kid — follow your dreams.”