Monday, July 20, 2009

What is Our New Frontier?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
-John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962
One of the most remarkable events in human history occurred 40 years ago, on this date. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first human beings to visit another world, landing on the moon in a landing craft built at a Grumman facility in Bethpage. As people said, it was like we left a little piece of Long Island on the moon.

I was inspired to write this after a wonderful piece from Peter Applebombe in today's New York Times. Mr. Applebombe shows the world something that is only a fleeting memory around here - Long Island was once the center of the aviation world, and it has been searching for a new identity for decades.

We often forget what Long Island was, and we are too often stuck in what it is now. Long Island was once the land of Jay Gatsby, Charles Lindbergh, and Grumman, a place where dreams took flight (no pun intended) and the Can-Do spirit reigned supreme. As we have seen, and I referenced in a recent Special Comment, that Long Island long vanished like that tear on the cover of The Great Gatsby, behind the defeatist rallying cry of "This is Suburbia."

That's right. This is Suburbia. This is the place that helped make the dream of traveling to the moon a reality. This is the place where Charles Lindbergh left on his historic flight (Blogger's Note: "If Mitchel Field had to wait 7 years, Charles Lindbergh would have taken off from Hackensack." - Legis. David Denenberg). And more than anything else, this is a place that is dying to be great again.

It will not (and cannot) cure all Long Island's problems, but, if we want to search for our next frontier, the Lighthouse is a great place to start.

The Lighthouse, as I've said before, could usher in a new way of thinking for this place that has seen everything from some of the opening shots of the American Revolution to one of the world's first suburbs. Maybe a company like Google (don't laugh, it could happen) would open up an office at the site...or maybe an entrepreneur working at the Sports Technology Center, or an incubator at the site, conceives of the next Google. Maybe Long Island becomes a premiere destination for high-profile sporting events and conventions, bringing millions into our coffers. Maybe younger people think twice before leaving for the bright lights of the City or a less expensive existence somewhere else.

Now that we have entered into the mandatory Public Comments period, citizens can take a more active role in the process. I have provided a link above to email the Town of Hempstead with your comment, and I repeat my offer to provide a second pair of eyes for anyone's public comment.

Bill Maher - a comedian I don't usually like - made a harsh but ultimately correct statement during his show on Friday. He pointed out that we landed a man on the moon before the end of the 1960's, and we really have not achieved a similar national goal since.

The moon landing reminds us that anything can be done if people commit themselves to an outcome. We can add a new definition for Long Island, in addition to First Suburb, Land of Gatsby, and The Place Where the Moon Dream Became Reality, and the time for action is now.

(Blogger's Note: I promise that we will have our series on writing a public comment this week. Tomorrow's post is held off until the evening because....well, you'll have to come back and find out)

Please share your thoughts in comments. Petition. Email Me. Follow me on Twitter.

1 comment:

  1. Nick other firsts that you missed are that 1904 LI is the place from which Marconi made his first radio call, LI (Patchogue Lace Mill) is the place where all the parachutes used on D-Day were manufactured, both Republic (P - 47 Thunderbolt) and Gruman (F-4-F Wildcat and F-6-F Hellcat) built the Fighter aircraft that helped to defeat the Nazi's and the Japanese respectively. I just wanted to add that info to yet another well written thread. Hopefully LI will again become a place where people are able to do things first and the Lighthouse would be a damn good place to start!