“The Moon wants to see what the Sun sees.

She stands where the Sun stands and the world goes dark.

Things look to her as they always look.

Shrugging her shoulders, She walks away.”

– “Solar Eclipse” by Ted Kooser, 1979


It is my sincere hope that you were able to enjoy the stunning and significant scientific event that was available to our country August 21st of this year.

I had paid attention to the one near us in 1979 and that was my first time to see the crescent shadows clearly visible on my parents’ patio.

I attended a 50th wedding anniversary event last Saturday for Dr. Steve and Jeannie Morrow. Sister Diane Langford spoke of the eclipse as being an allegory for marriage of such longevity.  

Her point was that sometimes the husband is the sun and sometimes the wife is the sun. The sun gives warmth and support to the partner who might be temporarily “in the dark” for some reason or another.

I thought that a very sweet take on two partners traveling their own paths but coming together as designed by Providence and Providential laws of astrophysics.

I cannot know if you enjoyed the event out of doors or if you got the full coverage over television. I am sorry for all who did not get to go outside on that beautiful day here in Neosho.

I am especially sorry for the schoolchildren who were kept inside. Let us think about that in order to be ready for the next time, 2024.

In my opinion, if the good Lord provides an astrophysics lab which everyone can observe and remember for the rest of their lives, WHY would it not be given full bore attention and organization.

I have been a school teacher. I hold a degree in school administration. I know there are several things that drive administrative decisions. One is budget and the other is tort liability. Both are burdensome.

The community could overcome both, and this community has finally come up with sufficient funds witnessed by the fine school buildings in Neosho now… late, but nevertheless, finally here.

The other stumbling block is the litigious nature of Americans today. In common wordage, the administrators probably were afraid of being sued for eye damage, crowd control, sunburn, etc. Therefore, children with working parents who could not take them out of school to see this rare phenomenon, did not get to experience it.

A teaching moment was lost. In my eyes that is a terrible thing. It sort of highlights a failing of the public schools and I am a supporter of public schools.

I think that is the greatest and perhaps only foundation on which our democracy is built.

I know of private schools in Joplin where the kiddies got to go outside and use NASA-approved glasses which one teacher had stapled to little hats so the glasses would not fall off and the hats helped with surveillance monitoring on the playground.

All of that took extra preparation on the teacher’s part as well as forethought and preparation by that school’s administration. Why couldn’t that have happened in Neosho?

Don’t ever say to me, “It’s not in the budget.” If you have a football coach, a basketball coach, a wrestling coach, tennis, and golf coaches, we know there is money and surely some for science.

My daughter, Amy, is office manager for the Lincoln, Neb., public school system’s curriculum department and the report from there ought to cause some pause down here.

They had 50,000 students, first grade through seniors, OUTSIDE for the eclipse. Every student was given glasses. The teachers had a dream come true when the students clapped, cheered, saw and felt the phenomenon of this planetary event.

It thrills my heart just to know that a school district thought about and planned a year in advance for this event and to know the students loved it.

Who can deny such a thing to students? STUDENTS!

A couple of years ago I was designated as Distinguished Alumnae of Neosho High School. Therefore, I think I am qualified, justified, mystified and horrified about this sort of dropping of the ball.

These are not just science events, these are events for the soul.

(Judy Haas Smith lives in Neosho.)


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