America be known in future years by the name of its greatest leaders
- the land of Washington, Hamilton, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy -
or will it be known as the NASA nation?
Who is the greater:
The priest, the scientist, the politician, or the common man?
The priest speaks of
God and gives mankind a noble name as the son of God.
The scientist discovers the principles of the God that the priest merely
hints at, and thereby give substance to mankind's noble name.
The politician establishes the environment in which the priest can speak,
and the scientist can discover truth.
But the greatest tribute belongs to the common man who wears the crown and
becomes a creator.
And so a nation cannot
be correctly known simply by its highest ideal, its greatest scientists,
its ablest leaders, but will ultimately be known by its greatest achievements
for the advance of all mankind, which stands tall on the shoulders of all
of the above. Here, NASA stands at the forefront. It isn't just an
organization funded by Congress to fulfill an assigned task. It had become
the face of a nation that responded to a challenge and rose up to become
engineers, scientist, explorers, educators, - discovering principles that
were not known before; creating industries that didn't exist before;
developing processes that weren't know to be possible before. When
challenged by Russia that had put a satellite into space, the American
nation committed itself to respond on a higher order and land a man on the
Moon, which it never fulfilled, it landed two men on the first mission.
NASA pioneered space telescopes, explorer satellites, space stations. NASA
had its name on these missions, but it was the creative power of the
nation, its productive commitment, its discovery of what it means to be
human, that stood behind the name, which the name merely symbolized.
Eisenhower proposed the legislation for a national civilian space agency,
Congress drafted the bill and passed it, and the President signed it,
thereby creating NASA. But this was just the beginning. The real NASA was
created afterwards, in school rooms, laboratories, pioneer workshops, and
even in kindergardens where kids we beginning to see themselves in new
dimensions. And it wasn't in vein. NASA became the most wealth-creating
endeavor ever undertaken by the nation, both in terms of it economic spin-off
benefits, and in the benefits derived from cultural optimism.
If one was challenged
to describe the real America a few defining phrases invariably come to
mind: apple pie, the automobile, the airplane, and NASA. NASA is an
element of a progressive spirit; a pioneering spirit - and the common
denominator is, humanity, power, and freedom. NASA is all of these.
Whoever thinks that NASA can be peeled off and cast aside bit by bit,
doesn't know what America is. NASA has become synonymous with the U.S.
nation. What it pioneered may ultimately become synonymous with mankind
Also see related: Principle