Space Exploration Day commemorates the July 20th anniversary of man’s first historic landing and walk on the surface of another celestial body. What had once been a topic for science fiction stories, had become an awe inspiring reality. Sending astronauts to the Moon, increased mankind’s sense of dignity and self worth. On July 20, 1969, there was peace in Viet Nam. The New York City crime rate dropped dramatically. The brotherhood of mankind shared in this symbol for peace and progress in the world. Where the conflicts in the world brought out mankind’s destructive tendencies; sending astronauts to the Moon revealed mankind’s creative nature. The Apollo 11 astronauts came in peace for all mankind.
“Men all over the world were hushed with awe, and world-renowned television commentators were speechless, as they watched and tried to explain the activities and easy strides of the astronauts on the lunar surface. Millions said, ‘How can young people withdraw from a world of this kind’”.(David O. McKay’s October 3, 1969 LDS General Conference Address, at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah.)
Space Exploration Day goes beyond the Apollo 11 Moon Landing to also include the spirit of exploration in general. In Plato’s dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon, the following discussion takes place on the subject of Astronomy. Socrates: “I admit it is difficult to convince the multitude, but in every man’s soul there is an organ which is purified and kindled afresh by such studies. This faculty is destroyed and blinded by ordinary pursuits. This eye of the soul outweighs ten thousand bodily eyes, for by it alone is truth seen.”
There is a unique inspirational value that comes from viewing the wonders of nature. This exploration of the unknown is a natural instinct that is very apparent in young children. We grow and learn to appreciate the joy of life through our discoveries. Space Exploration is a discovery process that all mankind can share together. The space frontier is filled with beauty, mystery, and wonder; whether we are viewing the thousand rings around Saturn, or the active volcanoes on the moon Io; or even watching astronauts walking on the surface of Earth’s Moon. It requires a spark of divinity in Man and Woman, to appreciate God’s Universe. As we share an appreciation for God’s creations, we can also learn to become more benevolent to our fellow man in life. Science fine tunes our minds, but we must fine tune our spirits. As we recognize the hand of God in all things, we are drawn to where we came from.
Science fiction writer H.G. Wells stated the following in his classic Things To Come: “For man there is no rest and no ending. He must go on –conquest beyond conquest. First, this little planet, and its winds and ways. Then all the laws of mind and matter that restrain him. Then the planets about him; and at last out across immensity to the stars. And when he has conquered all the deeps of space, and all the mysteries of time – still he will be beginning”.