Posts Tagged ‘Apollo 4oth Anniversary’


July 20, 2009

In May of 1961 President Kennedy declared that America would land on the moon by the end of the decade in order to insure that outer space was space for all. All great leaders have a vision and they declare it and thus it is so. Roosevelt wanted a cure for polio and Kennedy wanted to conquer space and Obama to mend our health care and education systems.

It doesn’t happen in the words themselves or in weeks or even months. The greater the vision the longer the path and the larger the cost to get there successfully. This isn’t just true for medical science or rocket science—it is true in business and in the arts, in families and in local institutions. If it is worth having it will take time, dedication and human and capital resources to get there.

Saturday night I was at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC as part of the celebration of the 40 years. This event was a musical celebration to the historic NASA program and highlighted through incredible video footage and accompanying magnificent music performed by the National Symphony how far we have come.  Astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Scott Altman narrated. Music from Star Wars, Lost in Space, Star Trek filled the room. Our song, “Let’s Talk About Love” written by Tena Clark, was selected to be part of the program too and was sung by the wonderfully talented, Jamia.  Jamia even received a standing ovation!  Little did I know in 1997 when we started Build-A-Bear Workshop that a song we inspired would be part of this historic moment. It seems that the stars are aligned and that outer space welcomes the children that aspire to know it better.

As the world celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon walk on July 20, 1969, I am reminded of how this giant space endeavor changed the face of mankind (and bearkind too).  I remember the day as if it was yesterday. It all started in 1961 when I was in the 6th grade and Alan Shepherd burst from Cape Canaveral to spend a few moments in space. It culminated on that summer day in July–I was a counselor at a summer camp in Atlanta when the “eagle landed” and Neil Armstrong took his first steps onto the moon’s surface and said to the entire world, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

To some, the space program was expensive and hard to measure. It was both of those for sure but it was more than what we can directly measure in so many ways. There were countless experiments that have guided modern day scientists that we will probably never specifically tie to the space missions. Maybe it’s most important legacy is that it ignited a generation to take science and math seriously. I know many a child, me included,that dreamt of being an astronaut at some point in their childhood. The reality of being an astronaut was for the most elite—the bravest and smartest pioneers. You truly had to have the RIGHT STUFF as they say!

My childhood was full of examples of big dreams (and many costly ones) realized: the first organ transplant was performed, Disneyland and Disney World opened and astronauts walked on the moon. There was nothing to stop me from thinking about what could be because the unimaginable was becoming reality all the time. Thanks to that inspiration at such a young age I continue to live in a world of gigantic possibility. If someone can go to the moon than how hard is it to sell a few million bears a quarter or invent new places for people to buy stuffed animals? How hard is it to fix our urban public school systems? Our health care system?  It’s not easy–don’t get me wrong but it is not rocket science. It is all about perspective. It is all about leadership. It is about executing the vision.

Thank you to all of our brave astronauts for leading the charge and setting an example for generations of children! There are still many great bridges to cross and some will be solved through what we learn in space and others will be learned here on earth. We must continue to believe that we can and then WE WILL!! Happy Anniversary Apollo!

Hugs to all,