|By Bob Weaver|
Over fifty years ago the US landed on the moon.
Most of us alive at that time remember the moment, one of the great achievements of mankind.
Now, in the 21st Century, a country once declared as a homeland of shelter to all people of race, creed, color, and religion, now divisive and split over those core American values.
I was at Camp Dawson, Preston County, a soldier with the 1092nd Engineers, huddled with other soldiers around a tiny black and white TV set, careful not to miss a moment of the Apollo 11 coverage.
Under the canvass of a 10-man tent, the summer heat boiling, we jumped and yelled when the first foot was planted. I was never prouder of the USA.
Returning to Calhoun, my aged grandmother McCoy proclaimed that the world's weather is doomed, "shooting those machines above the clouds."
Not unlike a few other historical events, the assassination of John Kennedy and the more recent tragedy of 9-11, and now COVID-19, there was keen awareness of the time, place and event.
That day in 1969, I reflected on my youthful days in Calhoun, endless efforts to shoot rockets skyward, fly model airplanes and launch balloons.
I once saved up money to buy a 13-foot rubber balloon, which we filled with natural gas, ceremoniously launching it from the Village of Hur. Its' tag was returned a few weeks later from North Carolina.
In the 8th grade at Calhoun High (early 50s), with the help of my buddies, we recorded a poorly acted drama about going to the moon, on likely the only tape recorder in the county.
The principal allowed us to play the moon drama with noisy sound effects on the school's PA system.
Rocket launching got more serious a little later.
Maybe it was because we really liked to blow things up.
Looking back, it is noteworthy that many of my rocket comrades went on to accomplish much in this world, some with rocket science. Most have faded into the great beyond.
They dreamed of rockets and stars, excursions beyond the limbo of life, with visions of far away worlds.
Years later, visiting the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum, it was startling to stare at Apollo 11 and discover how small and crude it was.
And then spending an afternoon with the late John Glenn in Martins Ferry, Ohio, a real American hero and gentleman.
Today, I would like to believe we were seekers, trying to discover the nature of the universe.
Maybe it was part of our better nature, now dissolved into the rancor of 21st Century inhumane politics.
See SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - Space-Age Sputnik Stirs Calhouners In '57
THE ROCKET BOYS OF CALHOUN COUNTY - A Time For Believing