Wednesday, January 26, 2011

MY Generation's SPUTNIK Moment!

In 1957, when the Russians launched Sputnik, I had just started High School the month before. That was the height of the Cold War, and there was no way that red blooded Americans, such as myself, were going to let the Russians beat us at anything! I was already set to be on the College Prep track, as it was called then, but I made up my mind to take as many math and science courses as possible (not the usual thing for a girl to do back then). I also took Drafting, and was the only girl in that class for 3 years! I had big plans of doing my part to help America one-up Russia in the Space Race.

For MY generation, Sputnik moment meant out doing and beating the Russians on every front. We were determined to show that we were the best nation on this earth. And we did!! I even took Russian in college, thinking it would be a valuable skill as a scientist in that era. I majored in Chemistry and minored in General Science, with lots of math courses thrown in as prerequisites.

I hope that's what President Obama had in mind, that kind of pride in America and determination to be the leading nation among the world powers, when he chose to say that we are in a Sputnik Moment in his State of the Union speech last night.

And I hope that's what it means to the youth of today hearing that phrase. But, frankly, I don't think there is any way the younger generations can possibly understand the strength of will that the American people exerted at that time to take back the lead in the Space Race. We need that same fervor to defeat this attitude that many in office seem to espouse that America has lost it's way, that it is no longer the best country in the world to live in.

So, I can only hope that the young people of today will find their OWN Sputnik Moment, when they act individually and collectively as Americans to bring our country to it's place in the world as the BEST, period.

8 comments:

thenewGM said...

Awesome....we need to be inspired to common goals and shared dreams again. We are so fragmented...hopefully, we can get ANOTHER great generation of teachers to prepare us for the challenges ahead!!!

Anji said...

I think that this applies in every country. Young people don't have the pride in their identity any more. Or am I just getting old?

Dirty Butter said...

Yes, I hesitated to make this sound so prideful, but it's the way we felt back then. Every citizen of any country should be proud of their country for SOMETHING - whether it's the history, natural beauty, contribution to culture or society, you name it.

It's sad to say, but you may be right about younger people. They don't know their own country's history well enough to be proud.

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Dirty Butter said...

Hi NewGM! Thanks for stopping by! I ended up teaching High School Chemistry and Physics and then Elementary School for 29 years. So my lofty dreams of helping with the Space Race were replaced with reality, a wonderful family, and a very fulfilling teaching career. I'd like to think I was a good influence on my students over the years.

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Jan said...

Strange how we seem to need a common enemy sometimes to reach an accord on our common goals.

Dirty Butter said...

So true, Jan. Political leaders have been using this strategy since time began, I guess. And we see plenty of groups who rally against their perceived common enemies, and the enemy is often the US!

cube said...

I can only hope that Obama meant Sputnik moment the way you so eloquently put it.

Dirty Butter said...

Eloquent? Me? Not hardly! But thanks for the compliment and for stopping by, Cube.

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