Make History: Be the First to do Something

Only 12 men have ever walked on the moon, but most people – if they racked their brains hard enough – would be able to name only one of them: Neil Armstrong. 

That’s because he was the first human to walk on the moon, and enjoyed almost as much fame as the first human to moonwalk, Michael Jackson.

If you’re the first human to achieve a major feat, you get fame and acclaim. If you’re the second human to achieve the same feat, you get a pat on the back, a box of chocolates and an autographed photo of the first human to achieve the feat.

This is partly why the Russians didn’t try too hard to land on the moon. The Americans had already been there, so why bother? No point in being the second country to land on the moon. Everyone remembers Christopher Columbus, but does anyone remember the second European who thought he had discovered India?

But Russia (or the Soviet Union) missed an opportunity to make history. They could have landed their spaceship on the moon and sent one of their cosmonauts onto the surface to utter the immortal words, “That’s one small step for a woman, one giant leap for womankind.”

The first woman to walk on the moon would be almost as famous as Neil Armstrong. She would certainly be more famous than the other 11 men who have walked on the moon.

The opportunity is still there, of course. No one has been to the moon since December 14, 1972, when the Apollo 17 crew completed their mission. 

The first 12 people to walk on the moon were all white men. Russia, America or another country could make history by taking a diverse group of astronauts to the moon. For example, they could make history with (1) the first Pakistani to walk on the moon; (2) the first Indian to walk on the moon; (3) the first recorded fight on the moon; (4) the first peace treaty on the moon; and (5) the first cricket match on the moon.  

Yes, there’s still plenty of history to be made on the moon. Once the first woman has walked on the moon, other women will be able to make history as (1) the first woman to do yoga on the moon; (2) the first woman to do the chicken dance on the moon; (3) the first woman to read a book on the moon; (4) the first woman to run a marathon on the moon; and (5) the first woman to run out of oxygen on the moon.

Of course, you don’t have to go to the moon to make history. There are plenty of opportunities left on earth.

For example, Anoud Al-Asmari recently made history as the first Saudi woman to be officially certified as a FIFA referee. This is a great achievement for Saudi Arabia. It gives me hope that someday, perhaps in the near future, someone will make history as the first Saudi woman to be officially certified as a completely free human being. (This lucky person will actually be able to get married without permission from her father!)

Women are achieving firsts all over the world. In America, Maura Healey recently became the first woman and first LGBTQ person to be elected governor of Massachusetts. Manpreet Monica Singh made history as well, becoming the first female Sikh judge in the U.S. And perhaps most impressive, Olivia Pichardo, an 18-year-old pitcher, made history when she made the cut for Brown University’s baseball team, becoming the first woman to play for a Division 1 varsity college baseball team. All her teammates will be men, but none quite as well-known as Olivia Pichardo (pronounced I-live-to pitch-harder).

In India, a woman named Sania Mirza is undergoing training to be a fighter pilot for the Indian Air Force. Before long, she will become India’s first Muslim woman fighter pilot. 

Another Sania Mirza made history in 2009 when she and her partner won the mixed doubles championship at the Australian Open, making her the first Indian woman to win a major tennis title.

I don’t know how many other Sania Mirzas are going to make history in the coming years, but don’t be surprised if you open a newspaper one day and read this: “Friends and relatives of Sania Mirza, a 35-year-old woman from Mumbai, celebrated with loud music and dancing yesterday, as she became the first Sania Mirza in history to walk on the moon.”

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