So you may have heard that the fireworks show last night at the Space and Rocket Center was a bit of a bust? Yes, sadly, it was. What you may not have heard was why . . . until now.
You see at about 8:15pm tonight, I snapped this picture with my iPhone.
As I was waiting while the kids continually road the Kiddie Launcher (as they were still a few inches shy of getting to ride the real one), I saw this, and was stunned. So, I tried getting a shot.
Then, wanting to share one of those rare photos I take that doesn’t suck, I posted it on twitter with the caption, “Who Needs Fireworks?”
So, there you have it. It was my fault. Sorry Huntsville; I jinxed the show resulting in a firework being fired every five minutes or so over the Space and Rocket Center.
I take full responsibility. So if you want to blame someone, blame me.
The Space and Rocket Center offered Huntsville a great venue for a show that despite a few technical difficulties, offered the children of our city a chance to dream again. Thank you. I mean that sincerely. Ever since I heard about the tickets going on “sale” (they were free, but you had to order them) on June 6th, I’ve been looking forward to tonight.
Let me say that again. I’ve been looking forward to July 4th.
Truthfully, I haven’t cared for fireworks or July 4th celebrations since I was a kid and we had, and no I’m not making this up, greased pig chases at the Statesboro Recreation Department.
Hundreds of kids chasing a buttered-up piglet in 135 degree heat.
Ah Statesboro, how I miss you.
(Okay, so there’s a little sarcasm for you.)
So I haven’t really cared for The Fourth much since about that time. There just isn’t anything inspirational about torturing a poor animal.
But this year was different. See, I love that I live in Rocket City, and the thought of watching fireworks on the 4th between the rockets that carried us to the moon simply stirred the wanderlust for the stars that I’ve felt since I was born.
My early childhood was filled with the Saturn V rocket and the Apollo Missions. I was a little over a year old when Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin landed on the moon. The first mission I actually remember was Apollo 17 with Cernan, Evans and Schmitt. The mission I remember like it was yesterday didn’t happen until 1975 with the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. Deke Slayton’s and Alexei Leonov’s “hug” in space convinced me, like nothing before or sense, that common goals make even enemies, friends.
I’ve believed that ultimately the survival of our race depends on our ability to touch the stars.
And so with that backdrop, I became once again, excited about celebrating our Declaration of Independence. If we could work with the Russians at the height of the Cold War (when my friends and I were still regularly practicing “Duck and Cover” drills by rushing to hide under our desks whenever we saw a bright flash of light), perhaps someday we could also celebrate our independence from war, hatred, envy and strife.
Touching stars has a way of lifting you out of the pettiness of getting to the front of the line to get out of a parking lot. It has a way of letting you enjoy a cool July evening even when the fireworks are disappointing.
Perhaps my children and someday maybe my grandchildren might find a way to live in peace from such silliness. Perhaps they’ll find a way to live in peace in the stars.
The Space and Rocket Center did not disappoint in this regard. From the moment I walked onto the campus, holding the hand of my little girl, I felt that rush all over again.
And despite the technical difficulties that plagued the firework display, I’m still proud of my family, my city, and my country. And I have the team at the Space and Rocket Center to thank for that.
So thank you.
And yes, even though the Bridge Street fireworks looked better tonight, if you open your gates again next year, my family and I will be returning to sit among the rockets and enjoy the sunset.
I only hope that by this time next year, instead of mourning the end of the shuttle missions, we’ll be celebrating the launching of the missions to Mars. Perhaps we’ll call them the Athena Missions as we seek wisdom.
Now more than ever, our nation and our world needs to find wisdom as we touch the stars.
And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus- Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.
Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.
— Gene Cernan