One of the cool things about living in Florida is that every so often, something is launched into space and if you run out of your house at just the right time, you can see the action- LIVE!
The Space Shuttle blast-offs were especially exciting..even the returns would announce themselves with a huge sonic boom that echoed across parts of the state. (It’s still hard to believe that entire program dissolved with barely a whimper.)
One summer day, back in 2008, we packed everyone into the car and drove north to get an even closer view of a launch. We spent the day at a crowded beach with many other “sand and space enthusiasts.” At the appointed hour, everyone stood up and looked north. Nothing, nothing, nothing…and then suddenly, there it was..the bright light with its smokey trail scratching its way across the sky. It was a terrific moment, but what happened next was even better. There was this far away sound, a thunder of sorts, that kept getting louder and louder and louder. It wasn’t the rumble of the rocket boosters… it was a sea of voices! Like a charging army, the sound rolled over the sand until it surged over our section of the beach with all the force of an invisible tidal wave…USA! USA!! USA!!! USA!!!! USA!!!!! Soon everyone was swept up in cheering and chanting..high fives all around.
What a unique and patriotic moment that was.
Thinking about it today makes me feel a bit sad, maybe because I’m not sure I’ll ever experience anything as unifying as that again.