It occurred to me that I never posted the speech I wrote to start the MIJC Mid-Year Board Retreat (and I understand that folks didn’t get copies of it at the retreat). So, to make up for lost time, here it is:

Do These Things Not Because They Are Easy But Because They Are Hard

As part of my continuing efforts to expand my DVD collection, I purchased the HBO mini-series From the Earth to the Moon. As with many of the entertainment references that I’ve made this year, I highly recommend this to you as well. The series covers the Space Race, America’s triumphs and tragedies in our quest for the moon.

There are 12 episodes in the collection, the last episode dealing with Apollo 17 and the last two men who walked on the moon almost 35 years ago. Towards the end of the episode, you hear a speech that President John F. Kennedy gave at Rice University regarding our push for the moon. He said:

“William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage. If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred … We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard”
These days, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of excitement about what we do in space. Many people will tell you that NASA continues to be a waste of money and of effort. Who cares about the moon and who cares about Mars … whoopty frickin’ doo!

But when I look up at the sky tonight, from Kalamazoo, and you all look up at the sky from the Mystic Lake, I will remember that despite the 200 miles that separate us – we’re looking at the same thing. When you eventually hit the sack tonight, there will be people in Florida, in North Dakota, and Brazil who also see the same thing.

The moon, the celestial body that on 26 men have walked upon, brings us together and our efforts there should remind us all that we are all a part of the brotherhood of man and that anything is possible.

Truly, at this middle point of the year, The Sky’s the Limit – just ask Neil Armstrong.

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