The Thought for the Day – Gene Cernan

America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow.  – Gene Cernan


Gene Cernan was an American astronaut. He is best known as the commander of America’s last lunar mission, Apollo 17, and was the last human to set foot on the moon. Before becoming an astronaut Cernan flew fighter jets in the Navy, reaching the rank of Captain. Cernan died in January of last year at the age of 82.

Today’s Thought came as Cernan prepared to leave the Moon for the last time. Immediately before uttering today’s Thought, Cernan had noted that while man was leaving the Moon, he hoped they would return “not too long into the future”.

He was wrong. America, the only country able to show any leadership in this matter, took a flier on exploring other heavenly bodies. And, actually, not returning to the Moon was not all that bad. We had accomplished a lot there and interest in further Moon landings, both amongst the public and Congress, was waning, as evidenced by the fact that three future Apollo missions were canceled.

Not returning to the Moon was of no consequence. No, what hurt was that we’ve never gone to Mars. Regular readers know we yap about this seemingly every other day. Well, there’s a reason for that. We’ve always felt that landing on the Moon is our greatest achievement, a line of demarcation separating everything that came before from everything that followed like few other events in human history. However, instead of the summit of space exploration, it should have been the foundation for going farther and we’ve long felt we could have made Mars in the 1980’s had we cared to.

Success begets success, and our failure to go to Mars meant mankind has missed on future triumphs, successes and innovations. And tragedies, too, frankly, because man has never done any kind of exploration, be it across an ocean or across space, without someone dying. It’s the way the world is built.

America’s challenge of today…

There is a lesson in this for us, too. The challenges we face today will forge our destinies of tomorrow. Are we taking advantage of what nature and circumstance are presenting us today, or are we taking a flier on them? If we are going to get on in this world and live the lives we were meant to live, we had best be taking advantage of the challenges of today.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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