Monday, April 12, 2010

Shuttle blasts off in ‘can-do’ spirit

Bluffton Today

Since we are expecting the budget back from the Senate very soon, I will wait until next week to continue my analysis of that important document. It will also give some time for us in the House to review the Senate version and decide what we are likely to agree on and what may need negotiation.

I was with my extended family down in Florida for Easter break and we literally had a “blast.” In addition to my wife, Mary, and our children, there was my mom as well as assorted brothers and their families.

We also had the pleasure of having with us Mary’s parents, the Kinzer’s from Moss Creek.

We had such agreat time; we decided to stay over through Monday so as to witness the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery. It was an early morning launch and unbelievably spectacular. We were on the beach about 70 miles north of Cape Canaveral. The dark morning was clear and we could easily observe the International Space Station for 15 minutes before liftoff. We saw the brilliant light of blastoff and then felt the tremendous sonic boom. This was followed by the sound of clapping all up and down the beach as spectators acknowledged one of the last night launches before the shuttle program is completed in the near future.

We were, of course, awed and amazed and not alittle proud at witnessing such an impressive display of American technological superiority. In addition, our family also includes one of the early NASA engineers, my father-in-law, John Kinzer. John was one of those “can do” fellows with the flat-top haircuts and the slide rules that made President Kennedy’s pledge to go to the moon a reality. John’s stories of how the space program overcame long odds to put the United States at the forefront of space exploration certainly made our appreciation of what we saw last Monday all the more profound.

In truth, the more I thought about it, the more proud and patriotic I felt. The era of the early space program, the 1960s and 1970s, was also the time when the building of the interstate highway system was under way. Americans were united in that “can-do” spirit and there was seemingly nothing we couldn’t accomplish.

There are those that say we can no longer summon the national will to meet the great challenges of our day. They say we are too divided and too short-sighted even to attempt what John Kinzer and his compatriots accomplished so fearlessly. I am not one of those people.

We, as Americans, have had some tough times recently, but our history is that after adversity we always come back tougher and better, stronger and more resilient. To me, it’s as clear and as brilliant as a night liftoff of the Space Shuttle Discovery.

This is Heritage week and we will see many of you at our showcase event. It is the time for Beaufort County to shine in front of an international audience. Our visitors are not only here to see some fantastic golf, they are here to see the gorgeous Lowcountry in all its springtime glory. A little patience and a lot of smiles will make certain we all have alovely week.