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One small step

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jamie Humphries
  • 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Last week, for reasons I can't remember, 2nd Lt. Fatama Abteen and I had a discussion about space.

This was hardly an in-depth conversation but a meaningful one nonetheless with the topic of conversation focusing on the endless possibilities that exist for her, her country and her future.

This dialogue between us was nothing new as we've had these kinds of discussion before, but this one resonated with me for some reason. Regrettably, I don't recall the exact details, but I do remember her being enamored with the thought of space travel and the possibilities that exist for mankind to travel in a space machine to the far reaches of our solar system.

Today, Abteen and three other lieutenants from the Afghan air force got to have a "real" conversation about space as they met astronauts Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan and Jim Lovell.

The meeting was short but meaningful to everyone present, as Afghanistan's aviation future met America's aviation past.

Although the lieutenants weren't even born when these men pushed the limits of space exploration, they understand history and the significance of their chance encounter with men that put the marvels of aerospace on the proverbial "map" for people around the globe.

I think it's moments like these which make our efforts with the lieutenants and Afghans worth the effort.

Moments we can provide that they wouldn't have received had we not been here working shoulder-to-shoulder with them. In my opinion, these lieutenants and the rest of the lieutenants serving in the Afghan military are the best and brightest, and are ready to catapult the next generation of Afghans into some semblance of normalcy in a country that most describe as "abnormal."

These young men and women are the future of a country besieged by war and poverty, and providing this kind of opportunity gives them hope and a reason to lead ... a reason to dream.

I don't know this to be true, but I'd bet my next paycheck that Armstrong, Lovell and Cernan started out as big dreamers as well.