When did patriotism become a dirty word in America?
When did we lose our American pride?
Was it when former President Barack Obama began his administration with an "apology tour"?
Was it when he said there was nothing exceptionable about American exceptionalism?
Was it when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee during "The Star Spangled Banner"?
Whatever event led to it, the cancer has taken root, flourished, and has metastasized deep within Hollywood.
"First Man," the long-awaited cinematic celebration of Neil Armstrong’s journey to the moon and back, premiered Wednesday to rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival. There was even talk of an Academy Award or two.
One of the most memorable moments of that mission was when Armstrong planted Old Glory, the flag of the United States of America, firmly into the lunar surface.
As Armstrong did this nearly 50 years ago, millions of Americans watched with eyes transfixed to their flickering 12-inch black and white TVs and with hearts bursting with American pride.
The filmmaker opted to leave that iconic scene out of "First Man," and everyone -- including actor Ryan Gosling, who portrayed Armstrong in the film — is fine with it.
"I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that's how we chose to view it," said Gosling. "I also think Neil was extremely humble, as were many of these astronauts, and time and time again he deferred the focus from himself to the 400,000 people who made the mission possible."
Yeah, Armstrong was humble in that "aw shucks" tradition common to most American heroes. But he was still an American, and except for those manning the tracking stations sprinkled across the globe, most of those 400,000 people were Americans too.
"He was reminding everyone that he was just the tip of the iceberg - and that's not just to be humble, that's also true." Gosling added. "So I don't think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero. From my interviews with his family and people that knew him, it was quite the opposite. And we wanted the film to reflect Neil."
Incidentally, Gosling isn’t American either — he’s Canadian.
When, on Oct. 4, 1957, the former Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world’s first manmade satellite into orbit, then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower vowed that the U.S. would never be caught flat-footed again.
To that end, he founded the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
His successor, President John F. Kennedy, saw Ike’s ante and substantially raised it four months into his own administration, with a resolve to accelerate the U.S. space program.
"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth," he said. "No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish."
Kennedy didn’t live to see that ambition come to fruition — an assassin’s bullet snuffed the youthful president’s life out 30 months later. But the goal was nonetheless met — and well within the time parameter he set.
Apollo 11’s lunar module touched down on Earth’s moon on July 20, 1969. Armstrong was the first human — an American — to walk on the lunar surface, followed 20 minutes later by Buzz Aldrin. Astronaut Mike Collins maintained "Columbia," the mission’s command module, in lunar orbit.
"That’s one small step for [this] man," Armstrong said as he stepped off the Eagle Apollo 11’s lunar module. "One giant leap for mankind."
And true to Kennedy’s challenge, Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins returned safely to Earth, easy-peasy (but not really).
It was a colossal effort — an American accomplishment — requiring the work of hundreds of thousands of men and women dedicated to a single goal — to be the best and the brightest — to be the first.
That was an American flag Armstrong planted, not a United Nations banner. And that was unquestionably an American experience.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He’s also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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