Rathbun: One small stepWritten by Gary Rathbun | | GaryRathbun@PrivateWealthConsultants.com
I was saddened to read of the death of Neil Armstrong this past weekend. To me this man epitomized the very essence of America. He was a true American and exemplified the ideals that built this country and made us great.
Not long ago, my wife and I visited the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I was flooded with emotions actually seeing the rockets and capsules that I had models of as a kid in the ’60s. I remember fantasizing about space travel and wondering what it would be like to see the rings of Saturn or live on Mars. (To be honest, there are some days where I would rather live on Mars and I know there are days where other people wish I lived on Mars.)
I remember vividly when Armstrong stepped on the moon. My dad thought it was important for me to see that, so he allowed me to stay up on a school night to watch it.
The longer the day went on at the Kennedy Space Center, the more those heart-warming emotions that I associated with those memories faded, to be replaced with frustration and disappointment.
Where had the emotions of unlimited opportunity and greatness gone? We were canceling the space shuttle program as well as the big Ares rockets that would have taken astronauts back to the moon, as well as Mars and beyond.
Was I disappointed because I no longer had a chance of being an astronaut in my life, or was it because America had changed and being great and leading the world was no longer in our national character?
Unfortunately, I came to think that it was the latter. We have not had a man or woman on the moon since 1972! President Obama canceled the funding for the 2020 moon mission and has directed NASA to study global climate issues from space. I fail to see how this will make America great.
Armstrong at the time, in an open letter to the president regarding this policy, said this is “devastating” and condemned the United States to “a long downhill slide to mediocrity.”
I tend to agree but on a much broader scale.
This attitude reflects the most basic problems we have in our country today. It is honorable to be poor and not achieve anything. Capitalism is a dirty word, as is producing something for a profit. It is evil to want to be an individual and create a better life for oneself instead of being part of the 99 percent and being mediocre and average.
Where is the attitude that we want to accomplish things “not because they are easy but because they are hard,” as President Kennedy said? When was the last time you were inspired by any of our leaders challenging us with a great task? Our leaders today challenge us with sacrificing ourselves for the sake of equality and fairness.
Greatness is being redefined. The word greatness is now associated with words like greed, egotism, and undeserved superiority. The “right stuff” is being replaced with the “same stuff.” 192 men volunteered to be part of the Apollo space program knowing they could be blown to bits on the launch pad, or left floating in space forever or maybe burned up trying to come back home. This was greatness; this was inspiring to me at age 10 and is still inspiring to me now.
Going into space to study global warming does nothing to inspire me or make me feel America is great. I personally don’t care if the rest of the world likes us or not, I do care if they respect us and are inspired by us. We all remember the kid in school whose goal it was to be liked by everybody and was liked by nobody. If we work to be great, the rest of the world will respect us; a few may be inspired by us to become great themselves.
Neil Armstrong was a true American hero and what he did to inspire many of us from that era is immeasurable. He will be missed; I hope that his greatness and, consequently, America’s greatness will not be forgotten.
Gary L. Rathbun is the president and CEO of Private Wealth Consultants, LTD. He can be heard every day on 1370 WSPD at 4:06 p.m. on “After the Bell with Brian Wilson and the Afternoon Drive” and every Wednesday and Thursday evening at 6 throughout Northern Ohio on “Eye on Your Money.”
He can be reached at (419) 842-0334 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.