Scott Carpenter’s death on Thursday should cause older baby boomers to recall the exciting days of the U.S. space program and every nationally televised launch of astronauts into orbit around the planet and beyond.
Carpenter, 88, was one of NASA’s original Mercury 7 astronauts. On May 24, 1962, he became the second American to orbit the Earth. John Glenn was the first.
But his passing should make people wonder what children today might see going on in the adult world that would set their imaginations on fire and cause them to dream of what they might some day do. There’s nothing like yesteryear’s space program to give American kids a collective sense of awe and wonder.
Instead they can look at the rigmarole in Washington, D.C., between congressional Republicans and the White House and wonder whether that’s what being grown-up is really all about. They can look at the job struggles of their parents and financing college worries of their older peers and question whether times will be any better for them.
They can turn on the television and see celebrity screw-ups and decide that watching and pretending to be zombies is more appealing than anything in real life.