I got this alert from CNN this morning:
Space shuttle Atlantis blasted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday, marking the final launch of NASA’s space shuttle program.
NASA is retiring its flagship fleet after 30 years of service. Atlantis, along with Endeavour, Discovery, Columbia and Challenger, have collectively carried humans more than a half a billion miles in orbit around the Earth, spanning 130 flights.
“Final liftoff of Atlantis. Shoulders of the space shuttle. America will continue the dream,” an official from NASA’s launch control announced.
Stuff like this makes me a bit weepy. I’m not sure why, but witnessing history, especially the passing of an era, makes me nostalgic and reflective. It happened again later this morning during our monthly chapel service here at Focus. Former U.S. Secretary of Education Bill Bennett was our speaker, and he reminisced about working with President Ronald Reagan, even sharing some of his favorite lines from Reagan’s speeches. I remembered the 80s, a decade that now seems so long ago, yet was part of my history. Bennett said that Americans have a dismal understanding of our nation’s history. In fact, only slightly over 30 percent of high school seniors have even a basic understanding of the details of our country’s past. Yikes. Are we really that apathetic about our roots?
Other littler and less important things make me nostalgic, too. Over Memorial Day weekend I bought an antique high chair. Why? I don’t have a baby, and the chair isn’t even up to code to be used. I bought it because it’s wooden and has a cute bear decal on it. My friend, who was with me at the time, said, “Please don’t buy that piece of junk.” But I did. Because it reminds me of Dick and Jane books. It makes me think of Leave It to Beaver. And I like it.
Other things I get excited about: old letters, Nancy Drew books, classic candy, national parks and their history. Other events I think about often: World War II, The Cold War, the pioneers’ move westward in the United States, the colonization of India.
What makes you nostalgic? Do you think of events in history and wish you’d experienced them? Are you saddened when you think of generations dying and taking pieces of history (and their accompanying stories) with them?
Farewell, Atlantis. You mark the end of an era. You remind me to live in the moments I have so I don’t forget them. And you encourage me to learn from the past and celebrate those who’ve paved the way for me now.