Royal Weddings and American Heroes

OK. As we head into the weekend, I’m going to acknowledge that most people today will be fixated on the spectacle in London and not the musings of a pajama-clad citizen journalist. In fact, I’m writing this post at 4 a.m. And for the first time ever, I have company. My wife just strolled into the living room to turn on the TV coverage of the royal wedding.

Go figure.

Thank God my computer wasn’t frozen on one of those Internet porn sites. Oops. I digress.

Anyway, good luck and best wishes to Kate and William. They seem like a pleasant enough young couple, and let’s keep our fingers crossed that things turn out better for Kate than they did for Diana under similar circumstances decades ago. That fairy tale sure took a bad turn — caused in no small part because Prince Charles was and is kind of a royal doofus. Just sayin’.

And I understand the media and public frenzy over the royal wedding. But there is another event later today that merits equal, if not more, attention, especially here in the USA.

The space shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral this afternoon on its last mission. And this is an opportunity to salute the heroism and brillance of everyone who through the years has contributed so much to the success of this program — and demonstrated what this country is capable of doing if we harness our energy, talents and resources for common purposes.

The backstory of the launch today is the fact that the shuttle is commanded by Mark Kelly, the husband of Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords took a bullet to the head a few months ago doing what we expect our elected officials to do in this country: get out and be available to those who they represent. The fact that she will be in Florida this afternoon is a miracle. Both represent the best in this country.

And at least near the Kennedy Space Center, interest in the shuttle launch matches that in London for the royal wedding.

Here’s from the NYT, “In Shuttle’s Waning Days, One of the Last Reasons to Cheer“:

TITUSVILLE, Fla. — As it has many times before, sometime Friday afternoon the stretch of Route 1 in front of Chris Galorneau’s restaurant will turn into a parking lot.

Drivers will abandon their cars, and customers will pour out of the Village Inn, where Mr. Galorneau is the general manager, as they will at businesses up and down Route 1, which serves as a main street for this city of 45,000.

Shortly before 4 p.m., all eyes will turn toward the Kennedy Space Center, 12 miles east across the wide expanse of the Indian River Lagoon. There, at Launch Pad 39A, if the weather allows, the shuttle Endeavour will thunder into the sky on a pedestal of flame, carrying six astronauts on a two-week mission to the International Space Station.

“The place will clear out,” Mr. Galorneau said Wednesday while waitresses bustled around him, and every diner got a free piece of pie for Pie Rush Wednesday. “Everybody crowds down to the river. And then, as soon it goes up, 10 minutes later I have a packed restaurant and I have a waiting list for hours.”

The brief but jaw-dropping spectacle that is a shuttle launching has occurred 133 times before, and Mr. Galorneau has seen his share (except for the time he was stuck inside making pancake batter — “You can’t run a pancake house without pancake batter,” he said — and got to feel the building shake). This launching is expected to be one of the biggest ever, with perhaps three-quarters of a million people jamming Titusville, Cape Canaveral and other nearby towns.

Some of the interest in the Endeavour mission is no doubt because of the drama involving its commander, Capt. Mark E. Kelly, whose wife, Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, was gravely wounded in a shooting in January. She is here to watch the launching. And some of it is no doubt because of an anticipated visit by President Obama.

OK. I have to get ready to go to the gym wellness center.

My wife won’t let me watch Fox News at home.

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