July 20, 1969: Following a decades-long pursuit of monetary and intellectual energy for a once-in-a-lifetime moment of unrivaled ingenuity, coupled with the bravery of astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, the United States successfully landed a man (well, three men) on the moon.
“That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Still an astonishing achievement 50 years later.
As part of the celebration and necessary reminder of that historic journey into the ever-expansive and unforgiving darkness of space, let’s recall the presidential charge given by John F. Kennedy back in 1962.
Interestingly, my parents attended the “JFK Space Summit” at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum on June 19, 2019. One of the panels, “NASA: From the Moon to Mars 7 Beyond” featured Apollo 11 Lunar Command Module pilot Michael Collins. Moreover, Douglas Brinkley signed copies of his new book American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race. My parents bought one of those signed books, which they will hopefully allow me to borrow so I can learn in-depth facts of that amazing journey as chronicled by a New York Times bestselling author.
Listening to President Kennedy’s unambiguous message to Americans is still an astonishingly ambitious — and uniquely American — declaration more than 50 years later.
While there is a long list of awe-inspiring films made about space with a certain reliance on realism– ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ ‘Interstellar,’ ‘Gravity,’ ‘Apollo 13,’ ‘The Right Stuff’ — the documentaries and based-on-real-events’ film ‘First Man’ about the famed Apollo 11 mission take on a different gravity of storytelling.
CNN’s ‘Apollo 11’ documentary along with the July 12th-release of the documentary ‘Armstrong’ that is narrated by the quintessentially rebellious American voice of Harrison Ford celebrates and takes us back to how that triumphant mission came together for this country as well as mankind.
Here is the trailer for ‘Armstrong.’
According to reviews, ‘Armstrong’ does not live up to fellow 2019 documentary ‘Apollo 11’ or the major motion picture ‘First Man’ yet it still provides insights into the man who seemed destined to help perform the moonshot of all moonshots.
On that note, what will be America’s next “moonshot”?
There will be no shortage of ideas in the coming week as we celebrate the Apollo 11 mission that was a giant leap 50 years ago, forever holding a unique space in human history.
President Abraham Lincoln’s Bible vs. a King Tutankhamun (“Tut”) Bust.
Two pieces of history — each carrying the weight of immense national pride for the individual subject — have interestingly, in recent days, moved in opposite directions for its next prized resting place. The Lincoln Bible has been donated by a private collector, legitimately passed down through generations, to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois.
Conversely, a roughly 3,000-year-old bust of King Tut referred to as “the boy king,” is heading for Christie’s high-end auction block for sale by a private collector. However, the rub is that there is speculation in Egypt that the bust was stolen. Therefore, Christie’s has no right to sell what is viewed by some as a priceless work of art of one of Egypt’s most famous individuals.
Who is right? Christie’s or Cairo?
However you may feel upon reading the following, this actually seems like a question for fictional adventurer and professor of history Indiana Jones or author Dan Brown and his fictional (though based loosely on himself) Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon to resolve.
Or maybe the decision should be up to real art collector and King Tut impression extraordinaire Steve Martin?
Returning back to the real world, Egypt’s only claim appears to be limited to speculation of theft. Still, one has to have sympathy for antiquities professionals in Cairo, like former Egyptian antiquities minister Zahi Hawass, featured in the video above, because of the definitive ambiguity surrounding the sculpture’s origin story. It’s quite difficult to determine a clear right and wrong regarding the near-future ownership of King Tut’s sculpture.
Regardless, the auction took place yesterday at the famous Christie’s auction house, as reported by CBS News.
“A sculpture of King Tut’s head was sold at Christie’s for $6 million Thursday.”
A prized American treasure of the past, Abraham Lincoln’s Bible is in a museum for all to see while a prized Egyptian treasure of the ancient past, a sculpture of King Tut, will be displayed by a private collector for a restricted audience to witness in awe. This is a fascinating debate on public ownership vs. private ownership and the ever-changing value of art inside the debate of perception vs. reality.
As the legal adage goes, “possession is nine-tenths of the law.”
Unlike King Tut, Cairo’s claim of one-tenth of the law won’t peacefully rest for eternity until the face of its country is returned.
And the rest of us are hoping to serendipitously score an invitation to an exclusive home art show that will display more than just macaroni art on the fridge.
Happy 243rd Birthday, America!
Celebrating the 4th of July is truly an amazing experience as an American, whether as a kid or an adult. Being able to live in the greatest country in the history of the world, one that, according to the Preamble to the Constitution, challenges its citizens “to form a more perfect Union.”
If we work and aspire to make it so, then tomorrow will be better than today.
Today is (aside from season 3 of ‘Stranger Things’ dropping on Netflix with its July 4th-themed premiere set in 1985), the perfect occasion to remember how it all started for the United States of America just before it was the United State of America.
Let’s travel back in time to this country’s inspired declaration.
God Bless the United States of America.
The Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy-led ‘First Man’ from 2018 revisited the historic Apollo 11 mission that culminated in the United States landing on the moon on July 20, 1969. The film’s director Damien Chazelle and his set crew beautifully recreated the moon’s surface and chronicled the first step by Neil Armstrong as well as a surprise, deeply reflective walk that personalized a grand moment that is now–impressively–more awe-inspiring.
Hollywood can dramatize and expertly recreate historic events. And yet a documentary tells a true story in masterful, artistic ways that are, at times, indescribable.
‘Apollo 11’ is one of these realities.
Director Todd Douglas Miller and major motion picture distributor Neon aims to do just that with its recent official trailer.
An exact release date has not been determined for ‘Apollo 11.’ Although it’s fair to say that people will surely mark their calendars when this exciting and informative documentary finally takes off into a theater near you.