The San Bernardino County Sun from San Bernardino, California on July 6, 1969 · Page 7
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The San Bernardino County Sun from San Bernardino, California · Page 7

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San Bernardino, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 6, 1969
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Page 7
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The Great Flag Flap By UILLIAM MIXES WASHINGTON - The law, we are told, is net concerned with trifles, but lawmakers sometimes are. So it was earlier this month that the House o f Itperesentatives, confronted with such issues as war, inflation, poverty, crime, unrest, disesase and polution, chose to focus its attention on the matter of planting a flag on the moon. In fact, the House went so far as to approve an amendment to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's authorization bill for fiscal 1970 forever prohiting astronauts o n U.S.-funded space missions from implanting "on the surface of the moon, or the surface of any planet" any flag except the Stars and Stripes. At first glance, this might seem a harmless enough even laudable gesture of pride in a great American achievement. Actually, it was a mischievous act perpetrated by a handful of congressmen typified by Rep. Richard L. lioudebush (R-Ind.), who offered the amendment. So bizarre was the Import of the rider that, in the course of debate, Rep. Allard K. Lo-wenstein (D-N.Y.) refused to believe it was for real. "Are we counting on the Senate to stop this odd proposal from becoming law so that we can engage here in a bit of political flag-planting without the results becoming too awkward for all concerned?" he asked. Despite the efforts of Lo-wenstein and a few others bold enough to take a stand against the amendment passed, setting in train a series of events that interfered with orderly preparations for the Apollo 11 launching and limited President Nixon's freedom of action in international affairs. The Great Flag Fooferaw of 1969 had its genesis earlier this year in speculation and discussion over the objects of a symbolic nature that might be taken along in Apollo 11 by Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin. Always before, the "ditty-bag" contents on a flight had been left to the astronauts' discretion, within weight and safety limitations, but this time because of the almost mystical character of the mission there was wider curiosity that would not be stilled by appeal to precedent Eventually, some viewers-with-alarm become conviced that a plot to communize the moon was afoot, in furtherance of which an International emblem would be erected there. This view was expressed In a newspaper editorial quoted by Rep. John R. Rarick (D-La.) in support of the Roudebush proposal: "There is a persistent rumor . . . that the spider flag of the United Nations will be planted on the moon by the American astronauts." Following passage of the amendment, NASA hurriedly jury-rigged a Handy-Dandy Flag Kit and set about fitting into the already jam-packed schedule of lunar surface ac-tivties the complicated business of the flag's assembly and erection. It boiled down to a question of priorities which still had not been settled as this column was written. Under the original time-line, Armstrong was to descend from the lunar module cabin to the surface, test the solidity of the ground, and then quickly scoop up a sample of lunar material in a "grab-bag" specially provided for that purpose. This would assure scientists on Earth of at least a small quantity of moondust In event of an emergency liftoff shortly after Armstrong stepped out on the moon. If such an emergency were to arise, there might not be time to collect a soil sample and also erect a flag. Which should take precedence the symbolic act or the practical one? This was the question NASA had to struggle with in the wake of the House's capricious action. Aside from the operation f WorJl of Srinee i aspect, there was a diplomatic one. As Rep. William F. Ryan (D-N.Y.) pointed out, "I would think the United States might want magnanimously to share man's conquest of space not flaunt it ... It may well be that the President would decide that it would be appropriate to place on the moon the flag of the United Nations. The amend-' ment would deny the President the authority to have (Continued on A-8, Column 1) the American flag, O Trailer Mobile O Hem SipbIIm, Comal Slack Fergen Hardwart 25003 Iom LlM (1 Heck Cart f TIpmcmmI TU 5-1549 Twice Amputated Leg Finally Lost " BOSTON (AP) Jan Dangora, 21, whose left leg was rejoined by surgeons almost three years ago after it was nearly severed in a motorcycle collision, has lost the limb after all. Surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital amputated the leg to combat a bone infection that set in after he broke it in a fall on an ice patch In February 1968 while on crutches. 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