the first Earth Day. Personally, I feel
Bill Anders himself best captured the
impact of his photo when he said, “We
came all this way to explore the moon,
and the most important thing is that we
discovered the Earth.”
Let me leave you with one final thought.
Flying above Earth’s surface, we don’t see
many obvious borders between countries.
Yes, sometimes the land use patterns
from one country (or state) to the
next may be different, and that may
give you an indication that you are
now looking at another country
(or state). But for the most part,
one rolls right into the next. In
other words, we don’t see clear
differences; more than anything,
what we see is simply our spaceship
Earth, the only planet on which we
humans are able to live. We are left
with a strong impression that we are all
crewmembers and, like members of an
actual spaceflight, we need to work together
to take care of our planet and each other.
So as we celebrate our forty-seventh anniversary
of Earth Day, let me encourage you to do this — rather
than focus on things that we perceive to be differences, such as race,
religious beliefs, or political party affiliations, and allow those to drive us apart,
let us instead focus on what we have in common, that we are all crewmembers
aboard our spaceship Earth.
WEND Y LAWRENCE (United States Naval Academy) is a retired Navy captain, helicopter pilot, engineer, and astronaut.
She was the first female Naval Academy graduate to fly into space. Lawrence served on missions STS-67, STS-86, S TS-91, and
S TS-114. She retired in 2006 and served as vice president at large for the Society from 2014-2016.
Clockwise, from left: Tidal changes cut narrow channels between small island cays west of Great Exuma Island, Bahamas. The eruption of the Sarychev Volcano in the Kuril Islands. Deforestation of the Amazon
rain forest. The colorful lights of the aurora taken from the International Space Station. Earthrise taken during Apollo 8. Sand dunes in western Egypt. All photos courtesy of NASA.