Thursday, March 10, 2011

Julia Gillard's Speech to Congress

I've just read most of Julia Gillard's speech to congress and although not amazed that for her the defining image of America was the landing on the moon, what did surprise me was the fact that as an eight year old, being sent home to watch the moon landing on television she would be thinking: Americans can do anything. I'm almost sure that she was more likely to have been thinking about getting out of school work for the day and the delights of watching a major event on television (albeit, a small B&W screen).  I was eighteen years old when Neil Armstrong put his foot on the moon's surface and at no time did I think about the American nation.  I was impressed by the almost alien black and white images of the surface of the moon, the space suits, the strange, crackling sound of Armstrong's voice, the absolute awe of being able to see a person so far away from earth. So when Armstrong said: That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind, I perceived what he and his crew had done was about technological advancement. It was not about America per se it was about human beings and their desire to explore outer space and the collaborative efforts and skills required to satisfy their desire. That Gillard is as amazed by America today, as she was when she was a young girl is a surprise ~ but maybe there's some irony in her statement: The only greater symbol of American optimism is America itself. The eyes of the world are still upon you, suggesting perhaps that although the world and Australia looks to and is influenced by America that it IS being watched and that it DOES have to account for its actions.

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