Today is the day in America that we set aside to count our blessings and give thanks for all the good that is in our lives. So I will set aside my curmudgeonly ways and ignore the future and all the imperfections to concentrate on what is good and right.
Like most of you, but mindful that not everyone had these, I give thanks for faith, family, friends, food, freedom, and finances. I wish that everyone could be as fortunate as I have been. Good health, too, is a blessing that not everyone can share.
But today, as is the theme of this location, I would like to think about space.
I am thankful for the opportunity to live in such a time; with all its challenges and imperfections this is a unique time in history. My generation, born before Sputnik, living yet, is the only generation that has gone from wondering to knowing. Before, we all thought there were canals on Mars and it was full of intelligent life; now we know that it is a marvelous place but not like that. Before, we thought Venus was a swampy, wet, and warm world; not we know it is not like that. Before, we had no idea what the far side of the moon even looked like, now we know. The mysteries of Saturn’s rings, the icy moons of Jupiter, and much much more, we could only guess about; now we know, at least in part. This is the great age of solar system exploration. We are fortunate to live during the excitement of these days. And there is more to come.
I am thankful to personally know and interact with the giants of this age of space exploration. To work alongside many of the heroes of Apollo, to talk with Nobel laureates in cosmology and astronomy; to meet with the leaders of the organizations which carried out all these works, is truly amazing. Better than meeting the Hollywood stars — and I’ve been fortunate to meet many of those, too.
I’m thankful that I have been able to contribute at least in a small way to the advancement of humanity into the cosmos. To sit in the big chair in Mission Control, with all the power and responsibility, is an opportunity that few will have. To be responsible for an organization which regularly launched humans into space to accomplish great tasks – repairing Hubble, building the ISS, and so much more; that has been a blessing, too.
To know those who put their lives on the line to fly on the fiery rockets and plunge into the unknown, that has been an awesome blessing and lesson in courage.
To have good work to do even in these days, helping new organizations build the next generation of rockets and spacecraft – safer and more efficient than before – that is a blessing. To contribute to the nation’s policy discussions and shape a more hopeful future, that is a blessing.
Today I pray for blessings on all our spacefarers at work on the ISS, bring them home safely after long and productive work high above us. I pray for blessings for those building new spacecraft and rockets, help them be diligent and creative so that we may all be successful. I pray for the leaders of our nation and other nations who make space exploration a priority; grant them wisdom and vision to use resources wisely to make our lives better here on earth and in the future in the cosmos.
Finally, I am thankful for the dreamers who inspire us. Ideas can be outlandish or practical but they challenge all of us to do more to bring the future into focus.
So I really have quite a lot to be thankful for today. I hope you d,o too.