The future is unpredictable
Published 3:23 pm Wednesday, February 4, 2004
Imagine a dried-up, small Alabama town. The town's biggest employer practically vanished overnight. Even its historical mainstay of agriculture wasn't doing much at all.
This little town was staring down the barrel of – well – nothing. Destined for the dustbin of history it was. Soon to be nothing more than a few stop signs and a zip code.
If you're dead certain this is about Atmore, you're dead wrong.
But something amazing happened to this little town out in the middle of nowhere. It became one of the country's technological hotbeds in daring, dangerous, and some would say, foolish project.
Still haven't figured it out? Here's a big clue. That town's big employer was Redstone Arsenal, and after WWII ended, the army didn't need all those artillery shells anymore, and it was nearly closed for good.
By now you might know that the amazing thing actually started over in Russia, with a little satellite called Sputnik and then another first with a man named Yuri Gagarin. With Sputnik and Gagarin, the space race was on, and America was in second place.
But we had a few rocket scientists as well. Needing an out-of-the-way place to stash them and their top-secret research, that old arsenal was re-commissioned.
Today, that old arsenal is called the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center, one of NASA's top facilities, and by now you know that town – Huntsville – is a bustling, multicultural, wealthy metropolis, and a hub of high-tech engineering.
President Bush announced a dramatic new push into space earlier this month that would put man back on the moon, and eventually, Mars.
Some would say that Bush's plan is unnecessary, dangerous, and yes, foolish. Others would say a new space program would not affect Atmore. The people of Huntsville surely thought the same thing in the late 1950's.
Huntsville's rebirth is proof that the federal government is nothing if not good at spreading the wealth around. Billions of dollars would be invested in this new space program, kick-starting research and technological development across the country. Who's to say Atmore can't grab a piece of that pie?
As our neighbor's to the north know, nothing's impossible. Sure, times are tough for this town, but the future is not as dark as some may think. Perseverance, hard work and a positive attitude can yet win the day. Pie in the sky you say? Ask someone who remembers Huntsville circa 1947.