Florida is a favorite winter vacation spot for many of us living in Michigan. In the winter Florida is warm and welcoming and offers such attractions as alligators, manatees, the Everglades and beaches where seniors gather. But for me the most important attraction is the Space Center, which chronicles a proud space history spanning over 40 years. A human first went into space in 1961 and that was the beginning of the Apollo space program for the US. In the 1990's many private interests began to look at space as a possible profit center. Just the idea of space travel brought forth dreams of a space adventure for my family. When Star Trek hit the TV scene we never missed a segment. But now with the new Administration in Washington, the space program is being cut to the bone.
At the Space Center we soon realized that we needed to take one of the tour buses or we would miss much of what there was to see. Our old bones just couldn't take us to every exhibit that we wanted to explore. After paying the ticket price of the tour we scrambled aboard the bus and snagged a seat behind the driver. The bus driver provided a canned presentation about the space program and how each building and site is used. But in between areas of interest we were able to talk with him privately. Knowing that the space program was going to be dismantled soon it was a treasured moment as he provided insight and his passion for the program. I never knew before that the Space Center is the only Federal program that actually makes a profit. To this day I can not get my head wrapped around why we are abandoning a profit center such as the Space Center.
Aside from financial considerations I believe we must consider the issue of national pride. Because a launch was planned for the next day, the "ship" was standing erect on the launch pad. We were somber in the knowledge that it may have been the last. We saw it clearly from a third level viewing tower. My husband and I stood there in reverence, holding hands knowing that this was a special moment. Perhaps it was the last time that any of us that day would ever see such a magnificent sight again. I wanted to turn to the other vacationers and lead the Pledge of Allegiance, but I didn't. Or perhaps we should have started singing the "Star Spangled Banner". I know others would have joined us. Or the Center should have been playing the National Anthem over the PA system. Perhaps, this was a missed opportunity. I know that this country is not perfect but it is still the best nation in the world. It is my nation and it is yours. We must be vigilant in preserving our history. God bless American.