I was raised in rural Alaska, in a village of 400 people you could only get to by boat or plane. We didn’t have television, either.
In 1969 we moved to Anchorage so I could go to college. That summer, I saw my first live television broadcast: the landing on the moon.
I was enthralled by the visual evidence of my own eyes in a way I had not been by reading about it in the weekly news magazines to which my mother subscribed, and I made a beeline for the local library to look up everything I could on the space program.
It all seemed to track back to one speech by President John F. Kennedy on May 25, 1961, in which he said “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
“I believe that this nation should commit itself…” I was so struck by the specificity of his language that I went further back, to his inaugural address, in which he said, “…Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country…With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love…”
“…the land we love…” Ten years later, I was sitting in my dad’s living room on Airport Heights Road in Anchorage, watching Armstrong and Aldrin step out of the lunar module onto an alien landscape 238,000 miles away. Today, I’m writing this essay on a laptop computer that is a direct descendant of the technology invented in the Apollo program.
I believe in service. I believe in sacrifice. I want to be called on to contribute. I want our next president to inspire us, challenge us, unite us and lead us in some great endeavor that I can look back on at the end of my life and say in good conscience, “I helped do that.”
I don’t want to go shopping, I want to help build a viable electric car by 2018. I want to start work now on an alternative energy structure that will have the United States energy independent by 2050. I want to tear down our current education system and rebuild it from the ground up so that all schools are palaces, all teachers are the best paid professionals in the nation, and every graduate is equipped with the skills and the knowledge to do even better than I did.
I believe that our nation is hungry for leadership and vision, and I believe that we are only waiting to be asked to serve.