Forty years ago tonight..... ...American GIs were dying as war raged on in Southeast Asia. ...America was in the throes of the most tumultuous period of social and political upheaval since the Civil War. ...sex, race, morality and the increasingly divisive war in Vietnam divided a nation that less than two decades prior had defeated the forces of Fascism and tyranny in a global conflagration who's costs were paid for with the blood of millions of lives, tens of thousands of those American GIs. ...a nation born of explorers and rebels answered the challenge of a since-fallen president and did what many scoffed as impossible a mere decade earlier. ...Walter Cronkite, protege and successor to the legendary Edward R. Murrow - who had been moved to tears at the death of President Kennedy - was speechless, overcome with pride and joy. ...a small planet orbiting an insignificant star in the midst of the vast, unfathomable cosmos was mesmerized. ...hundreds of millions across the Earth looked up at the moon in awe. ...a grandfather joined the multitudes around the globe as he took his two year old grandson outside to gaze in wonder at mankind's next frontier and America's latest triumph. ...the breath-taking beauty of magnificent desolation was beheld for the first time by human eyes. ...for one priceless moment in all of human history, mankind was truly one. ...the dreams of untold generations across the seas of time became reality as the first man stepped onto the moon. Seizing the holy grail in her celestial competition with her Soviet nemesis, borne on the hopes and prayers of a nation, conceived by her greatest generation, executed by her valiant and fearless sons, inspiring the whole of mankind, America landed men on the moon forty years ago today. I am one of the space generation, America's space generation. Going to the moon in our infancy, we believed that like our own teetering journey across the living room, Neil Armstrong's were the baby steps of America's imminent march across the solar system and beyond. Though I have yet to fulfill the dreams of my youth and follow in Armstrong's footsteps across the Sea of Tranquility, my thoughts trek across the lunar plains in the company of my grandfather's spirit tonight. Filled with pride, chest swelling with patriotism, his voice soft, yet resonant with the depth of his convictions and belief, he told never failed to tell me there was nothing I and this greatest of nations I was born into could not do. With her sons dying in rice paddies on the other side of the globe, locked in the steely confrontation of the Cold War as the threads that held her people together frayed and threatened to be torn asunder, America landed two men on the face of our luminescent lunar neighbor forty years ago. Vividly frozen in time now, it is a milestone in our personal lives and the shared history of our nation and human civilization. At the height of justifiable patriotic pride, the first humans to set foot on lunar firma in addition to the flag of their nation left behind a plaque that read in part, "We came in peace for all mankind." When next you look up at the moon, remember that the footprints of the 12 men in all of human history to ever step on it's surface belong to one nation alone. Only in America, faithful readers. May God bless her; only in America.