Me & Vinnie on Sirius XM Stars Too
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I don’t know if you guys realize what a huge difference Vinnie’s absence made in the last hour of this morning’s show. I was completely astounded (in a fascinated, not angered, way) by your discussion regarding the planting of the American flag on the moon and your impressions that it was an act of arrogance. I respectfully suggest that you re-examine the issue in light of the applicable historical context. Simply put, the USA of 1969 was a much different nation than the USA of 2009 and the planting of an American flag on the moon’s surface represented far more than some sort of a galactic imperialistic mindset or even that of a global superiority. Take a careful look at where we were in July, 1969. The country was led by a generation who came of age during the Great Depression followed shortly thereafter by a major world war. These individuals had survived untold sacrifices for the better part of 20 years and had managed to prevail. No sooner does the country emerge from these horrific events do we find ourselves mired in a Cold War with the Soviets which produced a war in Korea that was fought to a stalemate, a high-stakes arms race which produced fears of nuclear annihilation on a daily basis, and ultimately a war in Vietnam and several other Southeast Asian countries which, by the summer of 1969, had become wildly unpopular and clearly unwinnable. Meanwhile, back at home, the civil rights movement was exposing many embarrassing facets of significant pockets of American society. Unfortunately, because some state and local governments refused to follow through on the cures mandated by Washington, chaos began breaking out around the country. Some of the violence came at the hands of out-of-control law enforcement and vigilantes who attacked civil rights workers and activities. Other violence came via the more aggressive and militant organizations pledged to advance the cause of American minorities. The year prior to the moon landing witnessed the murder of Martin Luther King, rioting in Detroit, Los Angeles and other major American cities, the assassination of Robert Kennedy and the fiasco that was the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Our nation’s leaders were frustrated by a youth culture the perceived to be spoiled and unchallenged by economic adversity while our nation’s youth were frustrated by an “establishment” which seemed indifferent to equality among the races and genders, not to mention a willingness to send them off to fight a war they neither understood nor believed in.Simply put, by July 20, 1969, the United States was a nation divided by many generational, racial and political factions. The moon landing gave most of the country an opportunity to pause for a moment and feel good about itself. While there were certainly critics of the program at that time, especially within pockets of the civil rights movement (check out “Whitey on the Moon” – a cut on the brilliant Gil Scott Heron album “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” for an example), it was pretty clear that most of the nation took extreme pride in their country if only for that day. Arrogance? I don’t view it that way. Nobody ever (seriously or officially) attempted to “claim” the moon in the name of the United States. It was simply a way to mark that we were there. As a matter of fact, the plaque that the Apollo 11 astronauts left on the moon states, "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind." Given the fact that the USA was embroiled in a space race with the Soviet at the time of the moon landing, the words which were chosen to commemorate our nation winning that enormous leg of the race were not the least bit boastful when clearly the opportunity existed to exploit the moment.I’m not trying to sound like the grouchy old man (I’m actually a couple of years younger than Vinnie – and that’s not to suggest he’s grouchy or old), but I do think it’s important to view a gesture that was made in 1969 through an era-appropriate filter.