Opinion Editorial July, 2024: M-Day

opinion editorial
Any opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the policies of The Peoples of the World Foundation. Unless otherwise noted, the author and photographer is Dr. Ray Waddington.

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Perhaps most readers were expecting an op-ed about June, 2024 to be titled D-Day. After all, M-Day is not a common term, and last month was the 80th anniversary of the landing of allied troops on the beaches of Normandy.

June 27, 2024 was also D-Day (Debate Day in the United States). The relevance of that debate to the continued need to defeat extreme nationalistic ideology, even after eighty years, hopefully did not escape anyone.

Probably the first thing that springs to mind about M-Day is that it signifies Mothers' Day. But that day was not last month. How about Market Day? For the vendor in this month's photo, it was market day when I took it. He is likely descended from the indigenous Maya who first settled at Chichén Itzá in Yucatán State, Mexico. That's where I took the photo. Because Chichén Itzá is open to the public (almost) every day, it's always market day for him as he sells souvenirs to the tourists that visit the site. What is probably lost on most of those tourists is that the stone columns he stands in front of are believed to be the remains of an actual marketplace from when the site was still inhabited hundreds of years ago.

Perhaps the most bizarre day last month was June 12. On T-Day or, as it is better known, Tay Day, over a hundred academics descended on Liverpool, England (home of the Beatles) to hold a one-day symposium on the songs and music videos of Taylor Swift. Tickets for the symposium were snapped up as fast as her concert tickets sell. The intention is to make Tay Day an annual event.

As D-Day (the June 6, 1944 version) was being commemorated in Europe, M-Day was dawning in the US State of Texas: There it was Mars Day.

Nobody was attempting to reach Mars. In fact, nobody was going anywhere. Instead, the rocket intended to take us there eventually (Spacex's Starship) was sitting on the launch pad awaiting its fourth test flight.

That test flight was a huge success, and it achieved almost all its goals. While this does not mean we will send anyone to Mars any time soon, it makes the probability much higher that we will one day.

Only a day later, Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders was killed in a place crash. He took the famous Earthrise photo that helped inspire the environmental movement. Of the twenty-four people who have been on or around the moon, only a quarter are now still alive.

Many of them, like Anders was, are critical of a Mars mission. Despite the success of the Starship test flight on M-Day, it is still difficult for us to conceive a human settlement on Mars. Yet, those who built Chichén Itzá would not have conceived any way to get to Mars (they had advanced knowledge of solar system mechanics). Given our achievements in the intervening time, there could possibly be market days on Mars a few hundred years from now.

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