Monday, July 20, 2009

Ironic Anniversaries

Today is not only the anniversary of the successful effort to get to the moon and back, but also the 65th anniversary of the most famous attempt to kill Hilter--made famous again last year by Tom Cruise's movie, Valkyrie. Interesting juxtaposition, as the US space program was heavily indebted to the German rocket scientists, whose original research was part of the V-1 and V-2 programs that Hilter had hoped to be miracle weapons against the Allies.

I was struck by the aviation part of the Museum of Technology in Berlin exactly a month ago, which had three notable parts to the displays--the V-2 missiles, the Berlin Airlift, and the only aviation display I have ever seen with parts of shot-down aircraft. A very strange combo--new technologies responsible for accelerating the arms race (with first strike advantages creating unfortunate temptations in a crisis), the use of air power to feed rather than kill, and evidence of the bombing of Germany despite tremendous costs to the pilots. I don't know how this all fits together, but it does somehow.

The irony of Valkyrie and Apollo is perhaps more striking--failed effort to end a war and a genocidal regime, successful effort to push humankind's frontiers but with a relatively minor material impact (aside from the various spinoffs). Success always gets more attention than failure; 40 years is within the lifetimes of many people as opposed to 65; one event was quite public, the other not so much. Norse mythology vs. Greek? Kill to save lives versus peaceful competition during an arms race?

Again, I don't quite know how this fits together, but perhaps my readers do.

1 comment:

Steve Greene said...

Nope. I don't know how they fit together either :-).