Polipics: The Loss of Cronkite
Debbi K. Swanson Patrick
Last week was rough. We lost the great architectural photographer Julius Shulman and “America’s Anchor,” Walter Cronkite. Killer blows. And the U.S. now has a soldier, Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, in Taliban hands, and a video of him being shown all over the media. What impact will his image have on world events?
I might have focused on that this week, were it not for the loss of Cronkite on the horizon of the 40th anniversary of the United States landing on the moon. I can’t help but think he must have planned it. He had brilliant timing.
The politics involved in getting the U.S. to the moon was extraordinary. President Kennedy got the show on the road with his speech to congress (http://history.nasa.gov/moondec.html), and according to a spokesman from Jet Propulsion Laboratory who spoke at Caltech recently, we made the goal because a lot of the work was already completed.
Here are the shots that got the U.S. moving.
What’s that, you ask? The first pictures in orbit of the first satellite Sputnik, launched in 1957 by the Soviets, taken in South Pasadena. Here’s a more recognizable image of Sputnik:
Though the U.S. announced plans for a satellite first, we were beat. And JFK needed to get America back in the lead of the “space race.” What would the world be like if the U.S.S.R. had gotten to the moon first? Well, in fact, they did.
But with the crash of their ship, Luna 2, it was the U.S. that stepped foot first and planted that flag. This is the photo America wanted to see. And both the flag and footprint remain, even if our presence doesn’t. What kind of photograph, if any, would propel us back to the moon? We’re supposedly going by 2020, per President Bush, but there’s much debate about it. So, will we, or won’t we?
Did you think this was Neil Armstrong’s footprint like I did? It’s actually Buzz Aldrin’s.
Have you captured historic, political events? Please share.