Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Proper program management requires careful attention to the projected and actual costs. From my experience I can verify that cost prediction is a difficult art. How can you estimate the cost for something that has never been built, which is unlike anything else which has ever been built or operated, and for which some parts have to be invented?
Yet, when proposing a program or a project, it is not enough to describe what it is you intend to do and what the possible benefits might be, but also you must describe the cost.
In our business, not all the costs are financial. Pioneers have always paid the price for advancement with their blood.
A number of years ago we took one of those classic American family car-trip vacations to the Yellowstone National Park. For a long part of the trip we travelled along the Oregon trail. In good parental fashion we made our children study up about that great migration before and during the trip. One passage from the history books reverberates in my mind: “Every hundred paces along the trail there was some article of discarded furniture or farm equipment; every quarter mile there was the remains of a cow or oxen or horse, and even mile along the trail there was a grave.” Pioneers have always paid the price for advancement with their blood.
So one day a year we set aside time to remember those pioneers who paid the ultimate price for our modern quest. It is entirely fitting and proper that we do so. Just as we set aside one day a year to honor the brave soldiers, sailors, and airmen who gave their lives to keep our country free. Altogether fitting and proper. And totally inadequate.
As if we don’t remember them every day. As if their faces and voices don’t haunt every meeting and every decision that face us as we seen more pioneers into the space frontier. As if we can’t practice every day the lessons that have been paid for with great price – a price in blood.
Is the fourth Thursday in January the only day you remember them? That is not enough.
Can’t remember them all? Here is one place to start:
They can no longer carry the work forward. But we can. If we remember. Every day.
It is not your privilege to speak up; it is your duty.
It is not your right to participate in the exploration of space; it is your privilege only if you pay excruciating attention to detail, check and recheck, and make certain it is right.
At the end of the day, our progress has to be worth their sacrifice. Or we should not go at all.
And turning back is not the way they would have wanted to be remembered.