If you are like me and old enough, you remember exactly where you were when Neil Armstrong took that small step for man and a giant leap for mankind.

I sat with my parents and brothers, not breathing a word; just watching. I remember the thrill, the optimism that indeed anything is possible; we had successfully sent men to the moon.

Oh, how I wish that my children could have that feeling, that hope and optimism. I so fear that the turbulent, violent world of today, not to mention our current political nightmare, is burying any hope, any optimism.

With all of the media attention drawn to the salacious, the violence, the despair; how could our young people’s perceptions not be warped in some way?

There might be some hope.

In an interview last week, the President stated, “I still have the same sense of wonder about our space program that I did as a child. It represents an essential part of our character — curiosity and exploration, innovation and ingenuity, pushing the boundaries of what's possible and doing it before anybody else. The space race to the moon that we won not only contributed immeasurably important technological and medical advances, but it also inspired a new generation of scientists and engineers with the right stuff to keep America on the cutting edge.”

The President has set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America's story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended period of time.

The goal of sending American astronauts to Mars will require continued cooperation between our government and private innovators. The good news is we're already well on our way. Within the next two years, private companies will, for the first time, send astronauts to the International Space Station.

Outer space! I was so excited to read that some of America's leading scientists, engineers, innovators and students will be meeting in the coming weeks to dream together, to seek together, to share ideas that are not only considered outside the box, but perhaps someday will take us outside of our solar system.

It won’t be easy, but Americans have always risen to a worthy challenge. I am counting on our ability to remember, to dream and to succeed.

Please tell your children about this new initiative. I am telling mine in the hope that this story, this amazing possibility for advancement, not to mention the “way cool factor,” might just supplant the endless barrage of negativity which has been infecting our American spirit for far too long.

The New York Times, John Noble Wilford, wrote that Mars tugs at our imagination "with a force mightier than gravity." I, for one, am feeling that gravitational pull.

Did you hear? We’re going to Mars! I’m in. I’m pumped. I’m ready. Houston, send this gal to Mars!

Wendy J. Levenfeld is a published novelist, playwright and columnist. Send comments to wendylevenfeld@gmail.com. Visit Wendy’s website at www.wendylevenfeld.com.

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