I’ve written and re-written this post over and again. There is no good way to start.
This past week Eisenhower Middle School lost a bright, funny, kind, young man. He died Tuesday night. He sat in 2nd hour right in the middle of everything with a smile, and he will be missed.
My day to visit Eisenhower is Thursday, so everything was still very raw, and the day was quite somber. In all six classes we watched the first half of an excellent movie, “In the Shadow of the Moon,” which details America’s Apollo program from the 1960’s. The movie is entirely made up of interviews with the astronauts themselves, coupled with original footage from the missions and the media coverage that surrounded them. It is a truly inspiring work, and is well constructed and interesting. However, I don’t think many of us will remember it particularly well. Nonetheless, it was valuable to see, I think, because the astronauts discussed how the country lost President Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the first 3 Apollo astronauts all within the span of a few years. The astronauts remarked that in the midst of these tragedies and the controversy and struggle of the Vietnam War, the space program was something that people looked to for inspiration.
One comment from Mike Collins (command module pilot for Apollo 11) struck me in particular, and seeing it six times over really drove it home in my mind. When asked about Neil Armstrong’s near death experience as a test pilot, Collins said: “I mean what was he supposed to do? I mean maybe he could’ve gone out and got roaring drunk or something, but that’s not Neil, you know. He went back and shuffled papers. That’s what you had to do. You know, the program goes on.”
I don’t yet know how the program will go on here, but it will. We will all get through this difficult time together. Please keep this young man, his family, and the students and staff at Eisenhower Middle School in your thoughts and prayers.