How About Buzz Aldrin International Airport?
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By Robert Bunn - Former Senior Law Enforcement Attorney
At time when the nation is divided, quick to forget our past, and seemingly adrift, if not under attack, singular actions can change public perceptions. A good speech from the Oval office, a heroic deed that reminds us of what we are capable of, or a giving act, even one that is symbolic.
Recently, Apollo 11 Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin found a way to help our nation, selling signed Apollo 11 quarantine photos, then contributing 35 thousand dollars to the Salvation Army. One wonders if this might not be a good time to return the favor and remember who we Americans are, at our best.
The thought, which has been bandied about for years, is that perhaps Aldrin’s native New Jersey ought to be the location for remembering Apollo 11, what it meant to the nation, and risks taken by those who manned the mission. Public musings have suggested renaming Newark Liberty International Airport for Aldrin.
The idea may finally have traction, and with Aldrin now in his 90’s, various past astronauts come to mind for which institutions were rightly named: Shepherd, Glenn, Armstrong. Perhaps the time is right to consider renaming Newark for Aldrin.
The arguments against are that we have enough names, but then we also had enough when Ronald Reagan National was renamed, and when others around the country have taken on new luster. Moreover, the region, state, airport, surrounding towns, never mind travelers might be uplifted by the notion of travelling – stepping in time – where one of our first Moonwalkers is honored.
Also, worth considering, we are now on a new mission for the Moon, perhaps for Mars, and now locked in a degree of international competition – again. In 1969, Apollo 11 was a way of reminding us that – for all the internal unrest, international tensions, and unease around the Cold War, we were able to dream big, work together with enormous efficiency, match our will to deadlines, and perform at the level few thought possible.
With Aldrin’s connection to aviation and New Jersey, having grown up in New Jersey, flown young there and later been a decorated Korean War combat fighter pilot, the only question would seem to be logistics. The name Buzz Aldrin is not just inspiring, it is also not partisan – and never has been. He is not a hero to one party or interest group, not a symbol for one region, but an example of what we Americans aspire to be – patriotic, courageous, and able to deliver when we set out to do.
In short, at a time when airports are being renamed for political figures in various states, this would be the right time to rise above politics, escape the pull of partisanship, reaffirm our national courage through recall of the best in our national past, and let every American take small steps – in a place where a national figure is honored, who took humankind’s first small steps on the Moon.
Robert Bunn, former senior law enforcement attorney in FL and commentator on national issues, has special interests in rocketry, intelligence, international affairs, and national security. He holds multiple degrees from Harvard University and is author of two books, one of which is The Panama Canal Treaty: Its Illegality and Consequential Impacts.