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Looking towards the light as darkness pervades the daily news cycle

From the Newsroom

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Our children may very well look back on 2020 as a landmark year.

It’s an election year and neither side fully supports their party’s presidential nominee.

A global pandemic has upended everyone’s lives, damaged our economy and claimed the lives of 100,000 and counting, including 83 in Idaho, as of Sunday.

There are protests and riots erupting on city streets across the country after Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck, a 46-year-old black man, killing him after he was apprehended for committing a nonviolent crime.

RELATED | 4 Minneapolis cops fired after video shows one kneeling on neck of black man who later died

But amid the chaos and darkness of these events, the United States also took a step forward with the landmark flight of the SpaceX Dragon capsule that launched two astronauts into space last week. The Falcon 9 rocket took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida last Saturday and docked at the International Space Station the following morning.

The launch marks the first time in history that a commercial aerospace company has carried humans into Earth’s orbit.

RELATED | NASA, SpaceX launch astronauts from US soil for the first time in a decade

“We are so, so proud of everything you’ve done for our country, and in fact, to inspire the world,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said as he called the station from the space agency’s mission control center in Houston, Texas.

“It took hard work and dedication the last nine years to get us where we are now, launching rockets from the US,” Astronaut Doug Hurley later said in a press conference. “It’s been a really rough couple of months, so to be able to show the country what the agency is made of, what Commercial Crew and SpaceX did, I hope they take some pride and sense of accomplishment from that.”

In the midst of darkness and confusion on Earth, someone was looking beyond the confines of this world and was reaching for the stars. Someone remembered to look up.

A story with a familiar ring to it

Going back more than 50 years ago, many historians describe 1968 as a landmark year.

It also was an election year. Lyndon B. Johnson announced he would not seek re-election. Hubert Humphrey became the Democratic nominee but Republican nominee Richard Nixon ultimately won the presidency.

An influenza pandemic claimed the lives of more than 102,000 people nationwide.

Violent protests erupted in cities across America after black civil rights leader Martin Luther King was assassinated and more protests ensued because of America’s involvement in Vietnam.

While most people were focused on the chaos and darkness surrounding them, the crew of Apollo 8 launched the first manned mission to successfully orbit the moon. As they entered the moon’s orbit on Christmas Eve, many listened as they shared a message with the world during a live broadcast.

“In the beginning, God created the heaven and the Earth,” Astronaut Bill Anders read from Genesis in the Bible. “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

“And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and God said, Let there be light. And there was light.”

“From the crew of Apollo 8 … God bless all of you … on the good earth,” Commander Frank Borman said.

In the midst of darkness and confusion on Earth, someone was looking beyond the confines of this world and was looking up towards the light.

The following year, amid Woodstock and more anti-war demonstrations, the United States once again looked up as Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon and utter those now-iconic words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

America may endure days of darkness, but history has proven there will always be those who choose to look towards the light.

As I reflect on this, I am reminded of an experience from several years ago.

On Aug. 21, 2017, my family and I watched the sun’s corona, the outer edges of the sun, shine its light around the moon during the solar eclipse.

The sky went dark at 11:30 a.m. as the moon blocked the sun’s rays from hitting the earth.

But what made that day so unforgettable is that for a little over two minutes, our family, our neighbors, our community, and people across the nation looked beyond the confines of this world and looked up towards the light.