There is a television commercial making the rounds right now. It is sponsored by an airlines; and it praises the “pioneers of aviation” – or so it claims. At one point in the ad, the announcer says “Thank you Neil and Buzz…” which automatically raised a red flag in my brain (red flags hurt until you write about them.)
The commercial is obviously referring to the Apollo 11 mission, America’s first moon landing (as far as we know), which took place in 1969. With me being a pretty big “space geek” back then – having dreams of becoming an astronaut (until I saw the rigorous training horrors of the centrifuge and other such motion-sickness inducing devices) – I immediately knew something was wrong with the ad: the Apollo 11 mission had three astronauts. Only two were thanked.
History books now tell us that Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon. He was followed soon after by Buzz Aldrin. But do they mention Michael Collins? If not, then they should!
Michael Collins was the astronaut who piloted the Apollo 11 Command Module while the other men made their excursion to the moon’s surface. He orbited the moon for an entire day – all by himself – while the other men laid claim to glory and fame. The mission could not have been a success without him. He was their ride back: the designated driver, if you will. Quiet and content to sit in the shadows, Michael Collins was every bit the hero – and that is my point.
How often to we heap praise on the overtly visual and verbal: the people in the spotlight, while other heroes – unsung heroes – go unnoticed? The answer is simple: we do this all the time. We forget to thank the people who make everything possible, opting instead to heap our adoration upon those in front of the camera.
My goal today is to say “Thank You!” to our other heroes: our parents, our teachers, our helpers, our mentors and supporters – the people who do not ask for our adoration, but who deserve it just as much.
Thank you, Michael Collins! You are my hero!