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Tags: apollo | frontier | space
OPINION

Aldrin Has Unlimited Vision of America, We Should Follow It

trump et al with buzz aldrin

Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin (2nd R) and Michael Collins (3rd L) and Neil Armstrong's son Rick Armstrong (2nd L) join then-U.S. President Donald Trump, then-first lady Melania Trump and then-Vice President Mike Pence as they commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing at the White House July 19, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Larry Bell By Monday, 08 May 2023 12:36 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

I experienced two very different perceptions of America during a May 5-6 trip to Los Angeles, California to attend the promotion of Buzz Aldrin  a close personal and professional friend over more than four decades  to honorary brigadier general at the U.S. Space Systems Command.

One vision emanated from the deeply patriotic, proud and positive atmosphere at the Shriever Space Force Base that hosted the event.

The other, dominantly projected on ubiquitous CNN airport and hotel lobby television screens, depicted an America offering few if any reasons to honor or celebrate.

Each, it seemed, featured a latest update on this or that endless partisan investigation or legal suit against former President Donald Trump with no comparable interest whatsoever regarding hard evidence of foreign influence peddling and other mind-numbing scandals directly involving the current president and his family.

By contrast, I’ll share far more optimistic highlights of the outdoor event setting, theme and purpose attended by hundreds of people who honored Buzz at that beautiful midday ceremony.

In addition to Buzz’s family and friends, attendees included many who were and are instrumental in historic space achievements and current plans; high-level military, cabinet and congressional officials; and numerous uniformed officers and enlisted personnel assigned to carry out specific Space Command functions.

The event opened with Chief Master Sergeant Willie Frazier’s rich tenor vocalization of the Star-Spangled Banner as two F-18 Hornet jets dispatched from the Edwards, California NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center named for Buzz’s Apollo 11 co-moonwalker Neil conducted a resoundingly resonant fly-over.

Space Command’s top leader, three-star Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein, emphasized that Buzz Aldrin’s "contributions to the aerospace field and our nation are immeasurable," and that "Over the past 54 years since stepping foot on the moon's surface, he has been an inspiration to a nation, and tireless advocate for space exploration."

Gen. Guetlein also announced that in addition to the promotion, Buzz was also to become an Honorary Space Force Guardian for having “lived a life epitomizing the Space Force Guardian values of character, connection, commitment, and courage.”

Buzz has previously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Air Medals and many more honors from around the world.

U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert, R, Calif., pointed out that "Few endeavors have unified the globe like Apollo 11, and the invaluable contributions Buzz made which ensured its success," adding that the event "celebrate[d] a man who flew among the stars by giving him a star of his own."

Buzz’s story of remarkable achievements began long before Apollo: that of a West Point honors graduate who flew 66 F-86 Sabre Korea combat missions and shot down two Mig-15s; an F-100 Super Sabre flight commander flying nuclear weapons in Germany during the Cold War; recipient of an MIT Ph.D. degree in astronautics; and performer of a 1966 world record 5.5-hour-long "spacewalk" as a Gemini 12 astronaut.

The best lines of event dialog came from Buzz, stating that "It is thrilling that I am still here to see NASA sending brave astronauts to circumnavigate the moon next year and land astronauts (on it) soon thereafter; now that’s space exploration."

He then wryly added, "I intend to impatiently pester Elon Musk a lot harder so that he and I will be waiting there on the moon to greet the NASA astronauts when they land."

After reaffirming his oath as general, the ceremony concluded with Buzz’s recent Jan. 21 bride and devoted companion Dr. Anca Faur replacing eagle-shaped colonel pins from his shoulders with silver stars as Chief Master Sgt. Frazier unfurled and posted a blue flag with one star signifying promotion to brigadier general.

General Aldrin observed, "The eagle (that) landed on my shoulders long ago are now replaced by stars. Let the stars now placed on my shoulders help inspire humanity in achieving its true destiny of galactic colonization."

As Buzz observes in our jointly co-authored book "Beyond Flagpoles and Footprints: Pioneering the Space Frontier," "We are at an important inflection point in human history. The decision is whether to look upwards and gain strength from vision and commitment to worthy goals beyond ourselves . . .  beyond the here and now.

"It’s time we sailed the sea of space once more with bold, expansive vision. To achieve this, we need strong leaders, for sustaining a growing and momentous effort in space will require that we reject a defeatist mentality that mires us in the past. We must be prepared to sail against the wind."

Gen. Buzz Aldrin is such a leader.

Let the brightest stars continue to guide his unlimited vision of America.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and the graduate space architecture program. His latest of 12 books is "Architectures Beyond Boxes and Boundaries: My Life By Design" (2022). Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.

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LarryBell
Buzz has previously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Air Medals and many more honors from around the world.
apollo, frontier, space
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2023-36-08
Monday, 08 May 2023 12:36 PM
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