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Failure to remember?

Did you remember where you were 50 years ago yesterday when astronaut John Glenn blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in Friendship 7 to become the first American to orbit the earth?

Five decades is a long time to remember an event, but I happen to be someone who can remember it.


My grade school considered the event so important that we kids were invited to view it on televisions placed in various locations around the school.

The set I watched the blast-off on was in the hallway outside my classroom.

It was the only time while I was in school that an event from the space program caused us to stop what we were doing.

There were many events that characterize the decade of the 1960s, but it seems to me the space program gets short shrift.

Sure, the Apollo 11 moon landing was celebrated on the reverse of first the Eisenhower dollar starting in 1971 and then the Anthony dollar in 1979, but there is nothing else.

I editorialized in the 1980s that the space shuttle should be on a commemorative.

The response from Mint Director Donna Pope was that a space shuttle on a coin would soon look old-fashioned.

Well, yes it will someday. That’s precisely the point. Milestones of history are reminders of what came before us.

The space program is a series of events worthy of commemoration. That we as a nation have done little to mark our progress with silver and gold coins will look to be strange to future generations.