We recently celebrated the anniversary of one of the biggest engineering feats in American history. Fifty years ago, the United States took on the successful Apollo 11 mission of landing a man on the moon. It was a pivotal event around the world, more than 650 million people watched the events unfold and my father was one of those people.
In 1969, my father was in Kuwait watching the moon landing on TV. My parents were recent refugees who had fled their hometown in Palestine in 1967. My father was so enamored by the moon landing that he decided to call the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait to congratulate them. The embassy was happy to hear from him and invited him to their celebration party. While he was there, he asked if there was any way he could get an American visa.
A few years after the moon landing, my father’s dream of finding a safe place to raise a family came true, he received that visa. Before long, the rest of our family followed. My earliest memory as a child when we arrived to our new home was opening the gift my dad had gotten for me. It was a toy replica of the Apollo 11. I remember sleeping with the rocket that night, dreaming of the future. While I didn’t know it at the time, the rocket was also a part of my father’s dream since the day he first witnessed that historic event.
In the last few years, our nation has struggled with how we deal with immigration. We forget that this nation was built on immigration.
It gives a new meaning to the now famous words of astronaut Neil Armstrong: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”