America and When Everything Changed
American history, or really history in general is not always marked with outstanding events, stunning personalities or remarkable speeches. Much of the history of a great nation is slow steady improvement, set backs and then how a people recovers from those set backs. But in the context of American history, there are a number of truly phenomenal moments when everything changed.
These are not just one day events, although some are that sudden. But these are events that once they transpired, Americans thought of themselves, the world and their place in the world completely differently.
And it’s worth noting what those events were and how they changed Americans forever.
Obviously, the revolution itself and the founding of the country changed a small group of colonies who thought of themselves as Englishmen far from home. When the independence of America was done, that vision of ourselves was completely different.
America now became a proud new nation, a new type of nationality that had its own view of the world and its own hopes and dreams as well.
World War II was the kind of event that once they underwent the tremendous trial, struggle and victory that such a war demands of a people, they never could go back to seeing ourselves again in the same way as they thought before the war.
The victory against Japan, Germany and their allies gave tremendous confidence that they could affect world history for the better. But it also gave them a tremendous sense of responsibility.
When those bombs were dropped on Japan, everybody on the planet began to understand the horrible power that was now in the hands of mankind, in the hands of America and now, the huge responsibility for the fate of mankind that came with that kind of power.
Pearl Harbor while part of World War II deserves its own mention because of the fundamental change to how America viewed itself in relation to the world. Prior to that attack, America considered itself invulnerable. Like a teenager that thought they could never be hurt, we had never been attacked on our homeland before. But Japan proved that they not only could attack us but that they could hurt us very badly.
Yes, America responded with a fury but from that moment forward, they knew that they, like everybody else in the world, were vulnerable and they had to start behaving differently in a world full of both friends and enemies.
Outside of the military world, the famous I Have a Dream Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King at the March in Washington on August 28, 1963 did not just change the black community forever. Yes, that speech had a mighty impact on the way the African American community saw their future and it gave inspiration and hope to a struggling civil rights movement that spurred it on to victory.
But it also affected all Americans because they started to see themselves as a community of many cultures, many races and many orientations. It was the beginning of acceptance in this country. But that is a process that is far from over.
In modern times, the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 had a drastic effect on the minds and hearts of America and indeed on the world. They are still learning how that effect will finally show itself as the ripples of shock, fear, anxiety and reprisals are still going on.
But to be sure, as with Pearl Harbor, the effects on their feelings about their place in the world and their vulnerability were certainly be changed forever.
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How and When America Proved that Anything is Possible >>
When America Proved that Anything is Possible
It was one of those moments in American history that the people who were able to watch it for the first time felt like they were in a science fiction movie. But with televisions cameras on every move, the nation and the world watched on July 20, 1969 as American astronauts landed on the moon.
The project had been in the works for years to be sure. You have to wonder with the phenomenal amount of work, expert engineering and the amazing genius that created the rocket ships and everything that would be needed to make the flight possible, if even those in NASA sat in mute wonder and had goosebumps when “Buzz” Aldren was the first man in history to put his foot on another world and pronounce those famous words –
“That's one small step for man;
one giant leap for mankind.”
That phrase, which itself was carefully prepared, has a lot of wisdom in it. Sure, touching another world for the first time in human history was a tremendous accomplishment for America. But more than that, it signaled a new era for humankind everywhere. All of a sudden, the moon wasn’t a faraway myth, full of mystery and magic. All of a sudden, people everywhere felt like they too could touch the stars if they put out their best efforts too.
It was also a huge moment for the unity of all people. Few things cause the world population to come together and link arms and be one people, not separate countries. Most of the time, it’s a terrible global disaster that makes us all bond together. But this time was different. This time is was a moment so phenomenal that everybody stopped and watched, and everybody knew that this was not just a great accomplishment for three astronauts and scientists that put them there. This was a great accomplishment for mankind.
American history is populated with tremendous events, both bad and good. But it’s worth a moment to sit back and reflect on what the first moon landing meant and continues to mean for Americans and the American spirit.
It’s even more amazing when you remember that just a few years earlier, on September 12, 1962 that President Kennedy challenged American to rise to this challenge in a speech at Rice University. It takes a lot to make something as historic and earth shaking as landing on the moon a reality and visionary leadership such as Kennedy showed that day was a big part of why this landing made history.
This amazing achievement points out something outstanding about the American spirit. Americans are a people who dream big. And to land a man on the moon took big dreams. But they didn’t just dream to put a man up there, it was not acceptable unless they got everybody home safely as well.
For the most part the American space program has had a phenomenal history of success in breaking through barriers that nobody had ever done before.
Yes, there have been set backs and tragedies along the way.
But Americans are not quitters and through all the struggles they face and face them together.
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