The National Air and Space Museum is one of the most visited museums in the world. I found something amazing there today I had forgotten about: the donation boxes.
People contribute currency from all over the world. I counted more than a dozen types of bills.
Why do people give so willingly to another country’s aerospace museum? Because the Untied States space program is a universal, human achievement in addition to being an American one. The donation box is mere steps away from the Apollo 11 capsule.
WE LANDED ON THE MOON.
And sometimes it takes seeing the capsule in person — including the narrow seats Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins occupied when we flung them further from our planet than any human beings had ever traveled — for me to truly remember that and feel the consequences of that achievement.
And if you go upstairs, you see another human achievement: the role air power played in defeating fascism. The World War II exhibit has currency from around the world brought back by members of the U.S. Air Force.
We do these things, John F. Kennedy told us, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
We must do hard, grand things again. We owe it to ourselves as Americans and as a species.
The money collected, the money brought back, reminded me of these truths.