On May 30, I sat transfixed watching the launch of Space X in cooperation with NASA that sent two astronauts, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, to the International Space Station [“U.S. ‘back in the game,’” News, May 31]. It took me back to the 1960s and ’70s, when I was a pre-teen/teen watching liftoffs of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions. Depending on the day and time, I watched at school with my classmates or at home with my fellow “astronauts,” Randy, Mark, Isabelle and Roselinda.
As children, the five of us would often pretend, before there was an International Space Station, that our five-story apartment building was our space station, complete with bathrooms, cupboards filled with snacks and our moms cooking our dinners. We were ahead of NASA. We had two female astronauts long before Sally Ride in 1983 on the shuttle Challenger. We didn’t need special suits and had no problem with weightlessness. We traveled anywhere we wanted in space and reached the moon before Neil Armstrong in 1969 on Apollo 11.
Those were simpler times, when our imaginations took us anywhere we wanted, no Wi-Fi needed. There are news reports of traveling to Mars and also back to the moon. Been there, done that, and more.
What’s lost in the national rancor
Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once described his experience of reading the works of William Faulkner. He said, to paraphrase, reading Faulkner was like riding in the back of an open station wagon, facing backward as the car moved forward. The passenger could only see the past. This seems an apt description of where we are today. Americans can be divided into two broad camps — those looking forward and those fixated on looking backward.
The “forward lookers” want the country to continue moving ahead, respectful of lessons learned from the past and aware that not all steps forward are perfect. History is a grind, but the goal is to move to a better future and not be trapped or deluded by the past.
The “backward lookers” have a vision of some glorious American past when the country was all good and great. They believe America is under siege now and are prepared to fight to the end to get back that glorious past in which they felt comfortable.
But lost in the rancor is that history always moves ahead, whether we like it or not. People want things to be better. People want our country to be better. Let’s fast-forward, when I am no longer of this world, and imagine that I will look back on this moment in our country’s journey and ask myself one basic question: Were you on the right side or the wrong side of history? I suspect every one of us needs to ask and answer this question.
Little safety shown in school photos
In the June 7 Voters Guide [“Voting by mail getting big test,” LI Life, June 7], two pictures were of the superintendent and the district clerk of Middle Country schools.
In one, they wore masks but did no social distancing. In the other, they did neither. So, when schools reopen, what will they tell students about how these are necessary? Some could say, “Why do we have to wear them when you don’t?”
Outside protest means inside vote OK
Regarding “Voting by mail getting big test” [LI Life, June 7], if the government allows people to protest by the thousands shoulder to shoulder with the risk of COVID-19, there is no need for voting by mail.
People can vote in person. If you can be out to exercise your right to protest, then you can be out to exercise your right to vote.
If the message is left, it’s right
So Barbara Barker is advocating the cancellation of tennis’ U.S. Open because of the George Floyd protests [“Serving up Open not a good idea,” Sports, June 3].
She notes the pandemic and points to the protests. I guess the governing undercurrent is: Let’s keep politics out of sports — unless, of course, the political message is on the left and I happen to agree with it.
Town pools should open for summer
Why is Babylon Town closing public pools and spray parks [“Five towns plan to keep public pools, spray parks closed,” News, June 4]? Our children need an outlet, and we’re told the coronavirus is not contracted in a pool. Several other day camps and beaches are opening so why is this drastic measure taking place? It seems to me that the “wealthy areas” such as the Gold Coast are opening. Even New Jersey is opening them. I see this as becoming a horrible summer for Babylon residents, thanks to County Executive Steve Bellone and Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer.