As soon as I heard of Neil Armstrong's death, I instantly wrote an article about his triumphant life. It felt good, but it didn't feel like enough. Later in the evening, I turned on the TV (a rare occurrence for me nowadays) and flipped through channels to see what the world was saying about his life and his passing. In at least two media reports, they compared Armstrong to Columbus's achievement in exploration.
In the word's of 'Despicable Me,' "Light bulb."
I have never been a fan of having a Federal holiday named after Columbus's accidental conquest. Like my wife said when I mentioned this to her, "Why? Because saying he discovered America is like walking into a grocery store and saying you discovered milk?"
But even more than that, I thought it was a great idea to change Columbus Day to Neil Armstrong Day. After all, he is a true American hero who actually knew where he was going and he did what he did for a much grander purpose than for gold and conquest.
Since that moment, my excitement has only accelerated. I immediately contacted my good friends, Tom Diehl, former President of the Mehlville Board of Education and Dr. Rod Wright, political scientist and President of Unicom-Arc to see what we needed to do.
Mr. Diehl responded back that he liked the idea but suggested that the day be dedicated to exploration.
The text of the petition is as follows:
"When Neil Armstrong passed, President Obama said, “Neil was among the greatest of American heroes – not just of his time, but of all time.” He said that the crew of the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 “carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation”.
“When Neil stepped foot on the surface of the moon for the first time, he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten.”
We propose that Columbus Day be re-dedicated as Exploration Day, for the true American spirit is about achieving the impossible through exploration, scientific research, innovation and creativity. America continues to inspire the dreamers, the courageous, the adventurers and the resolute to reach farther, to build greater and to strive to make America that more perfect union."
The Hard Part
However, setting up our infrastructure was quite easy. The hard part is what we have to accomplish together to make this dream a reality and have the White House review our petition.
The bottom line is that we need 25,000 signatures in only 28 more days, September 26th, 2012.
That said, we are off to a good start. We have a meeting scheduled with a prominent columnist in the Post Dispatch and have picked up a couple of interested parties with a national presence who want to help us promote the idea.
The next question for you is, will you join us and sign our petition?