Updated: May 12, 2021
Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to be in a particular place. Even when there are so many things to be frustrated about or annoyed with, there’s magic all around. I witnessed that on a recent muggy Saturday morning in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Living on the Space Coast means many things. Miles of beaches, tranquil views of the Indian River Lagoon, and rockets. Lots of rockets. The sight of that trailing flame ascending into the sky is awe-inspiring. But the rumble that follows, the deep-seated intensity you feel in your chest? It can’t be explained. It needs to be experienced. Although it never gets old, I’ll admit I take it for granted sometimes. I feel lucky to watch those launches from my backyard.
This past month celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. A return to the past on the humid morning I mentioned was nostalgic. A parade of old Corvettes carried astronauts. Newer Tesla models transported their families. It was enlightening to see the combination of old and new. And the opportunity for my son’s high school robotics team to walk in the parade with their robot? It made the experience all that more enjoyable for me as a dad.
But it was something unexpected that fully captured the spirit of this day. People arrived at our booth set up to promote FIRST and our robotics team. An elderly gentleman sitting on a bench was intrigued, asking one of our high school students to explain how their team and competition season worked.
I watched their interaction with a smile on my face. I learned that this gentleman worked on the Apollo 11 mission 50 years ago. He designed the air conditioning and heating units on the spacecraft that carried our astronauts to the lunar surface.
Seeing how far we’ve come, technologically, was awe-inspiring. Inquisitive minds, whether from half a century ago or the present day, create amazing things that have the power to change the world. But even more inspiring, was witnessing the power of human connection across several generations as these two people shared a mutual bond for exploration and discovery.
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