July 28, 2014

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Should We Remember Our Triumphs As Much As Our Tragedies?

Or: why is it we commemorate some dates and not others?

A quick quiz.

What do you associate with the date November 22, 1963?

No-brainer.  Even if you weren't alive then, you probably know it's the date of the JFK assassination.

How about May 4, 1970?

Another no-brainer. The Kent State shootings.

Now, how about July 20, 1969?

On one of the anniversaries of that date, I went out to the streets to ask people what happened on that date.  Few knew, and not all of them looked like they were born after that date.  One (and I saw this coming) thought we were doing something akin to Jay Leno's hilarious "Jaywalking" segment on the Tonight Show.

One finally had the correct answer: July 20, 1969 was the date of the first moon landing, arguably America's greatest achievement, and a date I believe should be remembered as much as the two others mentioned above.

I also believe more people even know the date of the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters (January 28, 1986 and February 1, 2003, respectively) than know the date of the first Apollo moon landing.

Not that we shouldn't remember the tragedies.  But America also has its accomplishments, and the dates of those should be commemorated in some fashion.  We do have Columbus Day as a national holiday, to honor what really wasn't the discovery of America.  (No, I don't want another holiday, also known as another excuse to get a day off from work.)

If nothing else, it might be enlightening to today's generation to know that, once upon a time, Americans could work to get things done.

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