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The Worst and the Best of Humanity: 1937 and 1969

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Message Dr. Lenore Daniels

We are part of a research expedition. Shortly, we'll travel to the moon.

The elder is silent and then asks if the astronauts would do him a favor: relay a message to the "'holy spirits' on the moon. Our peoples who have gone on are there.

"Of course, and the astronauts are instructed to repeat, again and again, the message in 'tribal language.'

"'What does it mean?'

"'Oh, I can't say, It's a secret known only by member of the tribes 'and the moon spirits are allowed to know.'

"Back at the base, the astronauts look around for a translator and find one.

"What does it mean?

"And before the translator speaks, he laughs. 'Uproariously.'

"What does it mean!

"'Don't believe a single word these people are telling you. They have come to steal your lands.'"

*

Fifty years ago on July 20, 1969, the Eagle lunar module lands on the moon. Not long after, Armstrong becomes the first human to stand on that lunar surface. Back on the spacecraft, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins monitors from above. He's taken what for me is an amazing photo: in the foreground is the Eagle hovering above the lunar surface and, in the distance, in the jet black of space, is crescent-shaped sphere. Earth. All of life is on that small sphere-except for the photographer, astronaut Micheal Collins.

In Huntsville, Alabama, at what is now named the Wernher von Braun Center, its namesake and his team is ecstatic.

I wish the Nazi Wernher von Braun never existed, only the Saturn V creator, scientist Wernher von Braun.

Nothing good can come of deliberately ignorance!

I didn't know anything about von Braun when I was a young follower of NASA's early manned space-exploration programs. I'm not even aware of the number of victims of the Holocaust. And as for the "Soviet Union"--it's an enemy with a weapon that can wipe us out. So for years, we're subject to drills in which we hide under our desk or quickly walk, in line, class by class, to the fallout shelter in the recreation center. I'm not at all aware, at 15 years old, of the extent to which the combined regimes of fascism and totalitarianism have systemically tortured and killed over 15 million people and displaced millions. And I read newspapers and books.

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Activist, writer, American Modern Literature, Cultural Theory, PhD.

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