NASA did much more than send people to the moon in the great era of spaceflight that they brought to us.
Both my parents worked at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the best years of my boyhood. On off-school days my mother would bring me to work and I would have my run of the whole compound. I got to know hundreds of smiling faces, of people all working to send us into space. Then at night I got to watch Star Trek. I knew with all the certainty a boy could have that the adults could do it. - James.
In our lives there are but a few very inspirational and hopeful memories kept in the vaults of our minds which we would not trade for anything. We remember moments with our parents, at the beach for instance, when we were feeling hopeful, and inspired and loved all at the same time. My most precious such memory is not any moments as a child with his mother or father or his family. Mine is a music video produced by the National Air and Space Administration and made available in nineteen seventy-two to any television station who wanted it. As a boy growing up in Washington D.C., I would purposefully stay awake for the sign-off on WTTG Metromedia channel 5, which occurred at midnight every night.
The nineteen sixties and nineteen seventies were times of turmoil. It was a depressing time to be a child who is both growing and also be apprised of events in the world around you, as your mind and body grew without choice. But this music video inspired a feeling that was so strong, it convinced my consciousness every night, that there was indeed hope. It made a claim in its message that "the adults had not screwed everything-up entirely," although everything I saw or read during the day surely indicated that they had.
Everyone held recent memory of news clips and photographs from the horrific Vietnam War. It was a painful change in the process almost every day. Assassinations of the best people we had seemed common. Unarmed demonstrations put down with violence by governments, caused me to think that change was impossible. Everyone maintained a level of fear that nuclear war would occur at any given time, at the push of a button by someone being angry, being careless, being ruthless, trying to win the war. I would look at the sunrise and think "some asshole could take it all away for everyone," and the thought would bring tears to my eyes. The civil rights battles for equality gave us all imagery of man's inhumanity toward man, treating people as animals to be herded. The rise of the proliferation of the handgun changed the way we thought about just being outside at night. We treated each other based on shallow differences. Discrimination was granted by society and it seemed very ugly as I was made more aware of it frequently.
But then I could escape hopelessness late at night by watching what was for me a lullaby of hope and peace possible. It was the channel five sign-off, featuring NASA Apollo Eleven astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin bouncing about on the moon. And the song Lonely People by the band America playing during the film clips. This showed me a reality on the other side of hopelessness and so reminded me there is hope for me, and perhaps for everyone.
Many people gather the feeling of hope from a religion, by having beliefs, but I was not a child of beliefs. My parents worked at NASA and I played there on many days when school was out, and I had my run-of-the-place in every building and had made friends with many grown-ups. And so I saw the wonders that man could frequently create and it was explained to me how we created them often. I was not a boy whose psychology could be settled with an invisible source of hope. I had to have the physical, the touchable, the measurable, the viewable to draw on for hope when I was alone with my thoughts. And this sign-off video was abundant with hope for my little scientific mind.
If a hope is one of the reasons, you immerse in a belief system I have this suggestion if ever you feel your beliefs aren't enough. You can find hope by observing your fellow humans and their many wonderful behaviors, discoveries and inventions, insights and philosophies of real life, from reality. Hope from the physical world feels pretty good and there is no supernatural element to create even the smallest doubt in your mind. So this type of hope is as solid as it is there in front of you.
John ____: "Hi - My Dad, Byron Morgan directed the NASA sign off you're talking about when he was head of documentary films at NASA in Washington DC in the 1970s. I think he got the recommendation of the song from my sister. An original of the sign off might exist among my Dad's things and will look for it and post it if it exists. If anyone comes across it in the meantime, please let me know! Thanks for all the warm comments. He would appreciate them. And thanks so much Oddity Archive for the recreation! You certainly got the spirit of what he wanted to show.
Some of the moments I remember...when the song says "hit it!" the Lunar Landing Module takes off from the Moon. It ends with a crane shot of a woman and man in a park and they're spinning around which I think matched spinning NASA footage? A bit of a Kubrick homage ;)"
Additionally: A great radio story about the hey-days of early NASA: Science Friday; NASA during the civil rights era.Listen at SoundCloud:
Keywords: NASA, NASASocial, NASA history, History, America, Lonely People, Sign-Off, NASA Sign off, Television history, James Gray Mason, James Mason, time travel wish, Sol3
Copyright Reserved: End All Suffering / James G. Mason, June, 2014.