It was blasted cold, and being the Texas girl I am, I was bundled in layers of thick jackets and mittens. After having waited in a long line outside and then confronted by a picky squad of security, I sighed in relief. My sigh morphed into awe, as I took in my surroundings. You could not possibly miss the spectacular space rockets standing in all their glory nor the spacecrafts dangling above tourists’ heads like chandeliers.
I had finally stepped backwards in time at Washington D.C.’s National Air and Space Museum, an exhibition containing over 60,000 artifacts and stretching more than 20 acres. Inspired by American scientist Joseph Henry, this building was a living cauldron of our history and has been collecting objects well before the mid-1900s. Since then, it has only gained momentum and continues to expand.
My mind was blown, as I walked through endless hallways, leading me astray into the dozens of inventions that made my imagination go wild. I stood before Amelia Earhart’s bright red Lockheed Vega 5B, envisioning her thrilling at fantastic heights. I imagined the Apollo command modules landing astronauts in their dirt smudged spacesuits successfully on the moon, and Curiosity roaming Mars.
This was not just any ordinary museum. It did not have boring words on museum labels or random artifacts placed in haphazard locations. This was a museum of purpose — of describing human innovation and limitlessness. A couple of hundred years ago, people believed in the geocentric theory–the idea that Earth was the center of the universe. Then, Galileo Galilei created the first telescope and proved it wrong by discovering that Earth revolves around the Sun, a small speck in a ginormous universe.
As I spent day after day coming back to finish exploring every artifact, I reveled at how far we have come since those early days. Not only have we mastered space flight and sent satellites to the far reaches of the galaxy, but we are now on a mission to inhabit Mars. The Air and Space Museum has only inspired me to broaden my curiosity and uncover the big picture of this uncharted vast world of possibilities–a masterpiece of humanity that can make anyone stop and ponder. It is a symbol of the past and how far mankind has gone but also how far we’ll continue to go in the future.
I find it funny how small-minded we become. It’s so easy for a human-being to live his life for himself, riding the stages of life in a sort of fantasy world. I can see it clearly–the vanity, the selfishness. The world needs a movement that calls like mockingbirds of a new generation of Neil Armstrongs, echoing, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Stepping out of the building for the final time, I left with a sense of purpose, a purpose bigger than myself. The cold air once again struck my visage, but this time I was prepared. Never again would I get caught up in the weather.
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