Like millions of others, I watched the Monday morning shuttle Endeavour launch with an ample level of both pride and awe. With understandable amazement, I marveled at the enormous skills and intellect required to accomplish this feat in front of the entire world.
In a small way, this is yet another one of those USA, USA moments.
Leave your partisan britches at the door folks, this is pure American ingenuity at its finest. OK, granted it was a German scientist who effectively put us on this amazing road many years ago. But this was purely an American moment and a proud one at that.
In our present cost-cutting culture - driven by some honest economic realities - NASA programs are under close scrutiny. There's no need to discuss the practical benefits of our space exploration because when it comes to slicing the budget, NASA has always and will always be among the targets for cuts.
I found myself having a Michelle Obama moment Monday morning. At long last, I am finally proud of my country. OK, that's a stretch because - unlike the First Lady - I can find moments of national pride each day. But then again, unlike some, I don't carry a massive chip on my sculptured shoulders like the First Lady.
I respect the NASA ideals primarily because we expose ourselves to the entire world with events such as Monday's launch. No secret missions belatedly announced after their completions. Nope, we invite the entire world to witness the greatness that is America.
And when disasters occur like the Columbia launch 25 years go, we learn and improve and march forward. All of this in front of the world's population.
Now we have shelved the shuttle program. The program will stand in a state of limbo for a while. Maybe the Russians or the Chinese will step to the plate in our temporary absence. But it's doubtful they will expose themselves to the world stage. That's not their history.
There are so few items actually produced here anymore that something like the shuttle launch gives us some comfort in knowing this was a product primarily of American hands and labor and ingenuity.
It's far from our only bright and shining moment. But it sure helps.
We all hope and pray Endeavour returns safely from a productive mission. And like the launch, the return too will be broadcast to the world live and in living color.
This was not the transparency we were promised. But it's transparency that can surely be a source of pride.