Thursday, May 5, 2011

50th Anniversay America's First Spaceman

It was exactly 50 years ago today that America launched its first spaceman, Alan Shepherd. The Russian had beat us by launching Yuri Gagarin four months earlier. Shepherd is the one who had to wait for launch so long that he had to ask permission to pee in his suit - or risk having to scrub the flight.

Permission was granted and Alan became our first American to go beyond our atmosphere, beginning the race to the moon which we won.

I once rented an apartment and found out afterwards that the neighbor next door was Adm. Alan Shepherd, the same! I was in the River Oaks High Rise on Westheimer, next to the steeple of St. Luke's church in #1110. His door was directly across the hall, about three feet away. Wow.

I could never get myself to bother him though. If you respect someone you leave them alone - they get enough people bothering them. But part of me wishes I had knocked on his door with a six pack or bottle of wine -- and had a moment of his time. Being too modest can be as bad as being too aggressive.

Alan, to my shock, died within 4 years later, making me realize how impermanent our opportunities are, including those chances to talk to special people. I do admit when I heard knocking at his door, I could not help but look to see who it was...

Don't let those opportunities pass you by...Godspeed, Alan Shepherd.

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