A Salute to Scott Carpenter, And To His America

Scott Carpenter died today. His 1962 space mission, the second American to orbit the earth, is often remembered by everything that went wrong with it. Additionally, Carpenter was so “tripped out” and enjoying himself in space that he ignored many of the commands coming to him from Mission Control, thereby endangering the mission, and himself. Books about our early space program always mention this. Accordingly, his flight director swore he’d make certain Carpenter never flew a mission again, and, indeed, Carpenter never did. Nevertheless, he was a true American hero, one of our earliest space pioneers, willing to sacrifice his life for space exploration.

It’s hard today to picture an America as it existed in 1960. The heroic GI Generation was finally firmly in control of the culture–building, creating, designing, and fulfilling its leadership destiny, with one its members always in the presidency for the next 32 years (Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr.). The GI Generation was so dominate a force that when choosing a president, the entire subsequent generation, the Silent Generation, was skipped entirely, with Bush Sr’s 1992 handing of the presidential mantle to Boomer Clinton.

In 1960, Baby Boomers were actually still babies. This generation, unduly pampered at every important stage in life, thankfully were too young back then to poison the frontier spirit of the times. Incredibly, the American space program, after early-on embarrassing launch failures, made it to the moon in only about eight years. To this day, over 40 years later, no other country has sent a human being to the moon. Only an outward-looking generation such as the GIs could have accomplished this during those times.

However, a portent of the next few decades’ cultural conflicts happened during the final year of the 1960s. Occurring within weeks of each other, the Apollo moon landing–the greatest technological feat in history–and the Woodstock festival–the childish, mindless, drugged-out celebration of a narcissistic, Dionysus-like Boomer generation–could not have had a bigger contrast. While man soared high toward the sun like the gods in whose image he was created, his children only soared high! Indeed, when the then-recent moon landing was incidentally mentioned by a Woodstock performer, the crowd booed.

As, one by one, over the succeeding decades each key in the cultural chain has been handed to the Boomers, our culture has accordingly transformed, slowly but methodically, into its current cultural swamp. It wasn’t always like this. Just think of the early astronauts.



3 thoughts on “A Salute to Scott Carpenter, And To His America

  1. Just stop and think. (No excuses please that times have changed; fundamentals do not.)

    Go back some years. What do we see? America was the hope of the world. Free and welcoming individual entrepreneurship without much regulation. During this time, immigrants came from all over the world to take part in the individual freedom that allowed one, who with work, and sweat, had as a goal to achieve success. We became the greatest Nation on the face of the Earth.

    And, when such success was achieved, employees, and others in related industries were also benefited by the new start-ups that were based upon the new entrepreneurial success.

    With this history, we should stand tall and oppose, the so called “equal playing field” being instituted by Washington. With this approach, which doesn’t recognize differences among people, i.e. those with ideas and who are willing to take risks, from those who are takers from the toil of others. To achieve this “equal playing field, their mindless approach, which is the only one they can fathom, is to increase taxes on success and add more regulation. How stupid is this?

    Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged pointed out this danger, many years ago. The tendency to cater to those who could otherwise have a happy life, and benefit from that which accrues from the entrepreneurs, but who haven’t, for one reason or another, the skill, drive, or whatever to grow the economy, will be our undoing.

    Clearly since there are more people without the drive to be entrepreneurial, but who have the vast majority of voting power numbers, the politicians have as their, first order of business, while forsaking any principles unfortunately, is to become elected again. They do this while ignoring those hard won democratic benefits by our Founding Fathers which put us on the path of making our Nation great.

  2. Thanks, Rob,

    And the culmination of this child-like transformation is now resident in the White House doing his best to transform the nation into HIS own warped view of life.

    Seems pretty clear, when one doesn’t have to sweat to make it through life, understanding the need to work hard to preserve that which allows youthful hedonism is far beyond that one’s ken.


  3. Yes Scott Carpenter an American Hero died today. He left a legacy. He was the second American to orbit the earth. WOW it is hard for most of us to realize what he was thinking. What he was going to uncover, how he will feel, all the things that we little people could only imagine. He was up there facing the unimaginable. He deserves a lot of credit, all our men and women deserve a lot of credit. They really were brave souls who faced the unknown. I also enjoyed all your comments about the 60s , the baby boomers, etc.etc. It brought back many memories of a different time in America. Keep up the good work Rob. I enjoy your insights, they are well written and much thought has gone into every one of your articles.

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