Pavlich: Celebrating the moon landing, as Americans

Pavlich: Celebrating the moon landing, as Americans
© Getty Images

Over the weekend the United States of America celebrated the incredible accomplishment of landing a man on the moon 50 years ago. All across the country Americans came together to celebrate the moment and reminisced about a time of unity.

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too,” President John F. Kennedy said in 1962, one year after requesting the mission in front of joint session of Congress.

During the week leading up to the 50th anniversary, the Smithsonian’s  National Air and Space Museum held a number of events as part of “Apollo 50: Go for the Moon.”  For five nights in a row, the Apollo 11 Saturn V mission rocket was projected on the Washington Monument in the nation’s capital. On Saturday, the rocket blasted off during an unforgettable event on the National Mall. More than 500,000 people went to see the rocket projection in person, with tens of millions more seeing it on social media pages like Instagram and Twitter.

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I went to see it on Wednesday and watched in awe with an overwhelming feeling of American pride. Tourists and locals did the same. A space nerd as a kid, I learned early that putting a man on the moon took American unity, grit, determination, teamwork, hardship, innovation, sacrifice and patriotism.

Harnessing the excitement of American innovation and exceptionalism for the 50th anniversary, the Trump administration reiterated plans to put another American on the moon in the next five years.

“Make no mistake about it: The moon was a choice. An American choice. And like every time the American people make up their mind, once that decision was made, American ingenuity, grit, and determination — the achievement was inevitable,” Vice President Pence said last week from the Kennedy Space Center. “I’m proud to report we’re investing in new rockets, new spaceships. We’re working with private companies around this country to develop the new technologies of the future by unleashing the burgeoning private space industry that dots the landscape of this historic center and this nation.”

“And within the next year, we will once again send American astronauts into space on American rockets, from American soil,” he continued. “In the coming years, American astronauts will return to the moon aboard the Orion, and they’ll return with new ambitions. We will spend weeks and months, not days and hours, on the lunar surface. This time we’re going to the moon to stay and to explore and develop new technologies.”

But not everyone engaged in the joy of the moment. Instead, some took the opportunity to bash America and discredit the accomplishment.

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“The Apollo program was designed by men, for men. If we do not acknowledge the gender bias of the early space program, it becomes difficult to move past it,” The New York Times published. 

The Washington Post also piled on, framing the Apollo program as “intense, fun, family-unfriendly, and mostly white and male.”

When Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon for the first time and said the famous words, “That’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind,” he was talking about all of us. Men and women.

Since the 1980s, more than 40 women have served as astronauts for the U.S. The last mission to the moon was in 1972. It is true women were barred from becoming astronauts until 1978, 41 years ago. We have moved past it and NASA has vowed to put a woman on the moon for the next mission. In the meantime, we should celebrate the accomplishment of Apollo 11, and the other space missions that followed, as Americans.

Pavlich is the editor for Townhall.com and a Fox News contributor.