On Sept. 12, 1962, U.S. President Kennedy defined the meaning of his moonshot: “We choose to go to the moon.” Exactly 50 years ago this past Saturday, man followed through and did set foot on our celestial neighbor for the first time in history. When imagination is combined with commitment and innovation, mankind is capable of amazing things.

But what really happened during the eight days of the Apollo 11 mission remains a story not nearly told enough. 

Michael Collins, the astronaut left behind in orbit in command of the Apollo 11 spacecraft while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked the moon for the first time, recounted a piercing insight during an NPR interview which aired this weekend: 

“I usually get asked what the moon looked like up close, and that’s an interesting question with a lot of good answers. But to me, even though I was sitting on its front doorstep, to me, the moon was nothing compared to the Earth. The Earth was it — it was the whole show. Even though it was only, you know, about the size of your thumbnail, you could move your thumb out of the way, but it kind of kept inching its way back into your presence, as if it wanted to be looked at and seen and understood.”

With about 10 years left for a chance to preserve a living planet for our children due to the climate crisis, we know we have failed to sufficiently look at and see and understand the Earth. We are confronted with a man-made threat of enormous magnitude which puts at risk the very existence of humanity. 

Today, we are facing less of a choice and more of an imperative for survival. We must commit to an earthshot: a framework of purpose, imagination, commitment and innovation to keep our planet viable for the next generations.

Please join me in standing up for the next generation – by being a citizen now, speaking out now, organizing now, you can be an active climate voter. The future of our children hangs in the balance – you choose.

Tom Jacobs

Riverside

Ed. note: Tom Jacobs is an architect, educator and advocate who lives in Riverside and serves on the board of education at Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208.