Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Heroes

In a few hours there will be a memorial service down the street for the Columbia astronauts.

Here, in the towns surrounding the Johnson Space Center, astronauts make their homes. It is not remarkable to know an astronaut. They are at church, the PTA, play Irish music at the local pub, sing in the community choir. They are our neighbors, acquaintances and friends.

Given this level of daily interaction, we forget they are also heroes, heroes in a mythic, Joseph Campbell sense. These men and women risk their lives to go into the void of space and bring back something to the rest of the community. They know the danger involved. There is the memorial at Cape Canaveral with the names of the 10 who have lost their lives. They know the Russians have lost cosmonauts. Yet knowing this danger they face still go there and back again for the good of the community.

They go about this without much fanfare. The news rarely makes more than a mention of a flight. Presidents, kings and generals have the headlines. Like Frodo and Sam on Mount Doom; the eyes of the world are elsewhere, and the real important event is quietly being done. The astronauts go about their quest to broaden our horizons and understanding.

Sometimes they do not return. Then we are all the poorer.

Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind
Therefor, Do Not Ask For Whom the Bell Tolls, It Tolls For Thee
This will be my only posting today, it is time for reflection.

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