December 2, 2014
The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014
Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology
The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious
: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain
April 14, 2014
Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time
: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic
: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships
: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin
: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate
: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
April 11, 2014
Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden
: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does
: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer
: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You
April 9, 2014
Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?
Samuel G. Freedman
: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau
: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau
: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
April 8, 2014
Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease
Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear
April 4, 2014
A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children
Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet
Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds
Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves
April 2, 2014
Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?
Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities
It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene
Jewish World Review
June 17, 2013/ 9 Tammuz, 5773
America slips its bonds: Project Mercury lifted off in a more innocent time, but inspires us still
There has never been an American moment quite like Project Mercury.
It was one of the great undertakings of American power, one of the great expressions of American ingenuity, one of the great successes of American engineering, one of the great statements of American daring -- and one of the great dividing lines in modern American culture.
If you know what Project Mercury was, the passion it prompted needs no explanation and has no contemporary equivalent. If you don't know what it was, no amount of explaining, including this column, can begin to capture the thrill and sense of possibility it symbolized.
Project Mercury, a uniquely American combination of rocket propulsion and spiritual inspiration, ended 50 years ago this spring, with 22 orbits of the Earth by L. Gordon Cooper aboard a space capsule named Faith 7.
Its conclusion preceded the death of John F. Kennedy, who didn't begin the program but whose vital spark animated it, by six months -- and the combination of the two, the demise of Project Mercury and of the president who seemed to personify its spirit and who gave the undertaking its elan, marked an important passage in American life.
The space program continued, with Project Gemini and then Project Apollo, but never again with its innocence, its purity, its brio. By the time Cooper returned to space, with Pete Conrad aboard Gemini 5 (120 orbits in eight days in August 1965), Watts was aflame, the American sense of rectitude was jolted by the moral questions raised by the civil-rights movement, 200,000 GIs were in Vietnam and increasing numbers of people were questioning the virtue of the efforts in space when so many challenges remained on Earth.
None of that touched Project Mercury, which seemed to fly on the wings of dreams.
There was, to be sure, a large Cold War element to Project Mercury; its booster rockets were military missiles and the drive to beat the Soviets to the moon was a proxy for the struggle to defeat Communism on Earth. And there was a hokey all-Americanism gauze to the effort, fortified by breathless accounts on television and fawning articles and double-page picture spreads in LIFE magazine, the photo album of the American Century.
Even so, the effort was cloaked in the can-do spirit of the time, the romance of the new science, the vigor of the test-pilots who filled the ranks of the Original Seven astronauts (always rendered upper-case), and the redemption of centuries of longing to reach toward the moon, the planets and the stars.
There was a gee-whiz quality to Mercury, but the wonder of the engineering was accompanied by knowledge of the risks -- and of the improvised nature of the undertaking. The program was a showcase for American competence but the Mercury space capsule itself was a metal can bolted atop an ICBM.
"Not even did it involve no flying, there wasn't even a window to look out of," Tom Wolfe recounted in "The Right Stuff," his classic account of Project Mercury and its astronauts. "There wasn't even a hatch you could egress from like a man; it would take a crew of swabbos with lug wrenches to get you out of the thing."
No matter. Americans were going to match the Soviets and travel into space. So taken with the endeavor was a middle-school student in Pittsburgh that he sneaked his transistor radio into school, inserted his earphone and listened on the radio to the suborbital flight of Alan Shepard aboard Freedom 7, the first American manned space mission. The study-hall monitor at Shadyside Academy sent him to detention.
Thirty years later, Jay Apt made his first space flight and took two space walks. "Project Mercury was thrilling to all of us," says Mr. Apt, who eventually flew on four shuttle missions. "I treasure a recording of John Glenn's description of the sunsets and sunrises. The images he painted with those words led me to the path that allowed me to see them for myself."
Mr. Glenn became a symbol of America's determination to slip the surly bounds of Earth -- a haunting phrase from the 1941 John Gillespie Magee Jr. poem "High Flight" that Ronald Reagan borrowed in January 1986 after the Challenger disaster. In February 1962, Mr. Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, making him into a folk hero and sending him on a trajectory that would lead to the Senate, a presidential campaign and a return to space at age 77 in 1998.
"We didn't know how inspiring this was to so many," Mr. Glenn, who turns 92 in July, said in an interview this month. "It completely surprised all of us."
Yet the allure of the voyage of Friendship 7 persisted. Julie Payette, born in Montreal 20 months after the Glenn flight, told me before her own space mission in 1999 that Mr. Glenn was "a hero of mine." On the 1984 campaign trail, Mr. Glenn encountered a set of twins in New Hampshire's lake country. They were almost 12. One was named John, the other Glenn.
It was Dwight Eisenhower's genius that put the American space program in the public eye in more ways than one. The 34th president insisted that the U.S. effort to reach the heavens be conducted not in secret, as the Soviet program was, but in public, even the embarrassments (boosters that didn't leave the launch pad) and disasters (beginning with the fatal fire on Apollo 1 in 1967).
But it was Kennedy's rhetoric that sent Mercury soaring. "This generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space," he said in 1961. "We mean to be a part of it -- we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace."
No one alive in those years failed to be inspired by those words and that impulse. That is why grown adults in their 60th year still possess items such as the American Heritage Junior Library book "Americans in Space" holding firm to them as emblems of the hopes and idealism of their youth. My copy is right here on my desk.
if (strpos(, "printer_friendly") === 0)
Comment by clicking here.
David Shribman, a Pulitzer Prize winner in journalism, is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
06/13/13 As the World War II veterans depart
06/03/13 Capitol culture shock: The Old Guard of the Senate valued honor most of all, and see little of it today
05/27/13 Patience is a virtue --- and a political strategy
05/20/13 Crossing sacred lines in Washington
05/06/13 The limited power of presidents
04/29/13 Living history on display
04/22/13 Social Security, 21st-century style: Dems call Obama a traitor
04/15/13 49 years, four months, 25 days: Today's America is as far removed from JFK's era as his was from World War I
04/08/13 The Senate as it once was
04/01/13 Connections and coincidence: History is full of mysterious relationships, including clusters of greatness
03/25/13 Where portraits tell the story of America's greatest conflict
03/18/13 A former president's correspondence reveals the power of letters, and the powerlessness of aging
03/11/13 Outrageous spectacle lead to a rational resolution on the budget? A nation can dream, can't it?
02/25/13 The one big thing Democrats and Republicans can actually agree on
02/18/13 Obama is wrong to make young people think college is mainly about making a living
02/11/13 The war inside the GOP
02/04/13 Presidential politics, frozen in place
01/28/13 Speech invokes past for present and future
01/14/13 If Obama's inaugural address is to be remembered at all
01/21/13 Identity crisis in the GOP
01/07/13 History meets firearms
12/31/12 In search of our better angels
12/24/12 Wounded in war, Inouye just kept serving his country
12/10/12 President as change agent
12/10/12 Another overtime election
12/03/12 Defining the Obama presidency: Our re-elected chief executive has the whip hand now, but how will he use
11/19/12 New Hampshire 2016
11/12/12 Obama's second chance
11/05/12 America's first martyr to free speech
10/29/12 Making hay in Iowa
10/15/12 When two men confronted each other from afar as civilization hung in the balance
10/08/12 If you look at the election a certain way, things don't seem so terrible
10/01/12 Debating the debates
09/24/12 Pessimists R Us
08/20/12 Obama remains a puzzle even as he asks the American people for a second chance
08/13/12 With Ryan, Romney upends the conversation
08/06/12 The real Romney remains hidden behind other people's opinions
07/30/12 What summer is for: How August can matter, and how Romney might use it
07/23/12 The Independent son of independent Maine promises to shake up Washington
07/16/12 The Rambler American
07/09/12 The Telstar revolution: Fifty years ago, a 3-foot orb was sent aloft and spawned a new era in communications
07/02/12 It's got only four electoral votes, but Romney and Obama will be fighting for them
06/25/12 A little noted rebellion over a lonely stretch of land helps tell the American story
06/18/12 You're nothing special: Luck is what you make of it . . . and what it makes of you
06/11/12 Anybody can talk authoritatively about the presidential election. Here's how
06/04/12 Candidates love to ally themselves with admired presidents, in sometimes unexpected ways
05/29/12 Americans aren't in a new burst of patriotism but they are in a new burst of appreciation for the military
05/21/12 Inside out: Almost nothing about this year's presidential election conforms to conventional analysis
05/14/12 Lugar grew into an elder statesman, which is why he'll be leaving the Senate
05/07/12 50 years later, MacArthur's farewell to arms continues to inspire
04/30/12 The likability factor: We're going to find out how important it is in these troubled times
04/23/12 Romney's four battles: With the nomination essentially in hand, he must turn to new challenges
04/16/12 For GOPers, expect the frustration to build, not abate
04/09/12 The political battles you cannot see
04/02/12 Romney's roadmap: Doing better in Democratic states may complicate his fall campaign
03/26/12 Romney struggles with same GOP forces his father faced long ago
03/19/12 The writer and the president
03/12/12 Romney could learn from his rivals after Super Tuesday
03/05/12 The GOP race continues, and Republicans continue to grouse about their choices
02/27/12 The turnout threat: when voters vamoose
02/20/12 The Winter's Tale: Republicans are engaged in a 'problem play,' full of psychological, and real, drama
02/13/12 Which Ike to like?
02/08/12 A tale of two elections: Voters today are making their most profound choice since 1912
01/30/12 Whither the GOP establishment?
01/23/12 The Democratic coalition is breaking up
01/09/12 The verdict that wasn't
01/02/12 These are the keys to who will persist
12/19/11 Another Gingrich rebellion
12/12/11 A defining fight for the GOP
12/05/11 A distinct lack of enthusiasm
11/28/11 For GOPers, the winds are beginning to pick up, the horizon is darkening
11/21/11 Today's polarized politics . . . blame FDR and the political scientists
11/11/11The sporting life
11/07/11 Ron Paul, true believer
10/31/11 Why Cain isn't able
10/10/11 GOP starting over
10/03/11 The Forgotten War of 1812
09/26/11 The way we live now
09/19/11 The crisis this time
09/11/11 But what will it mean?
09/05/11 A horse race column: Who might win the GOP nomination and how it might unfold
08/29/11 The vacuum calls
08/22/11 Passion and politics: How Barack Obama and Mitt Romney got crowded into the same dangerous corner
08/15/11 Eleanor's little village
08/08/11 The agony of August
08/01/11 The politics of the impossible: What a country this might be if the political class served the broad interests of the majority
07/25/11 Pennant fever grips 'Burgh
07/18/11 Exemplar of an era
07/11/11 On summer
07/04/11 The soul of the party
06/27/11 What the Secretary said
06/20/11 Romney has big advantages over his rivals, but they will be coming after him
06/06/11 One question each
05/30/11 The 14-week challenge
05/23/11 Delay tactics
05/16/11 Republicans are waiting
05/09/11 Bin Laden is dead. What does it mean?
05/02/11 From nobodies to nominees
04/25/11 The founders left slavery for future generations to settle, and we still haven't fully come to terms with it
04/18/11 From audacious to cautious
04/11/11 Dreaming of space
12/12/10 The GOP takes control
12/06/10 DECEMBER 7
11/29/10 GOP presidential hopefuls already are lining up local supporters in what is now a red state
11/22/10 Burning down the House
11/15/10 Institutions of higher learning are finally beginning to teach important lifeskills
11/04/10 The war has just begun
11/01/10 Echoes of a speech 40 years ago this week still resonate today
10/25/10 50 years ago America chose between two men who were dramatically different --- and eerily similar
© 2011, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Distributed by Universal Uclick, as agent for UFS.