The 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), with over 10,000 grass-roots activists attending, didn’t disappoint. Past CPAC speakers have included President Ronald Reagan (12 times), President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, just to name a few.
This year’s all-star line-up included Dr. Ben Carson, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Sean Hannity, Larry Kudlow, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Glenn Beck.
There was one speaker, though, this year who was different, and the people knew it. A man who has always answered his country’s call to duty and inspired generations. When 86-year-old American hero Buzz Aldrin, wearing his red, white, and blue American flag tie approached the podium before speaking, the CPAC faithful were on their feet.
Everyone, regardless of their brand of conservatism, knew they were seeing a piece of American history and they listened. Older attendees remembered back to a time when America as a nation dreamed big dreams and accomplished much. Younger attendees were reminded of the American spirit of exploration they had heard of and read about.
Buzz Aldrin finished third in his class at West Point. As a young fighter pilot in the Korean War, he flew 66 combat missions and shot down two MiG fighters.
Buzz was actually one of the first to shoot down a MiG while flying an inferior aircraft.
Buzz went on to earn a Ph.D. at MIT, his writings there playing a role in his selection into the astronaut program.
His 2-hour-and-20-minute space walk as a pilot of Gemini 12 set a then record for extravehicular activity (EVA). And, of course, as a member of the crew of Apollo 11, Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed “the Eagle” on the lunar surface and became the first men to walk on the moon.
Aldrin’s “challenge” to CPAC attendees and to the next president is to be a pioneer for mankind and for Americans to be “historic explorers” once again. Calling Mars “America’s next destination,” Buzz laid out his “cycling pathways” engineering approach and a well thought out plan for getting to Mars and staying there.
As Aldrin stated at CPAC: “Firsts in science and exploration require a special kind of leadership, the sort that is defined by courage. Our nation needs to re-find that sort of courage.”
Aldrin concluded his remarks by quoting President Ronald Reagan — “We Americans have a rendezvous with destiny.”
At the end of his remarks, the CPAC stalwarts were on their feet, young and old alike, to honor this dedicated warrior for American exceptionalism. And then it sunk into me. Buzz Aldrin’s “challenge” at CPAC was actually much bigger than going to Mars and leading in space exploration. It was a “challenge” to rekindle the American spirit of dreaming big dreams and doing big things.
And it reminded us all what America can do for mankind when we come together as a people and as a nation.
Van Hipp is chairman of American Defense International, Inc. (ADI), a Washington, D.C. consulting firm. He is former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, and served on the Presidential Electoral College in 1988. He is the author of "The New Terrorism: How to Fight It and Defeat It." To read more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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