The sign accompanying the statue. It reads
A man must rise above the Earth to the top of the atmosphere and beyond,
and only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.
Socrates (circa 399 B)
On December 13, 1972, at 11:40:56 p.m. (CST), Apollo 17 Commander Eugene
A. Cernan became the last person to leave a footprint on the lunar soil. Four
days later, after a 500,000-mile round trip, Captain Cernan, along with
crewmates Harrison "Jack" Schmitt and Kansan Ronald E. Evans, splashed down in
the Pacific Ocean. It was the conclusion of the Apollo lunar program and the
end of what historians now describe as the greatest technological achievement
in the history of mankind.
Backed by more than 400,000 dedicated workers, 25,000 companies and the will of
an entire nation, 12 Apollo astronauts walked on the Moon during six missions
between 1969 and 1972. Their scientific goal was to study and explore, but
Apollo's legacy is much greater. It taught our nation - and the entire world -
how to share a common dream. The moon landings proudly proclaimed that our
nation accepted no limits on what we could accomplish.
This statue of Astronaut Cernan leaving those final footsteps on another world
should remind us that the continued advancement of mankind has forever been
linked to the exploration of the unknown and the pushing of human boundaries.
It is a reminder that every generation has an obligation to take risks in order
to take our society to ever higher levels of existence. We must also be
reminded by history that societies which have not used their knowledge and
capabilities to lead humanity into the future are always replaced by nations
Since the crew of Apollo 17 left the moon in 1972, no human exploration beyond
Earth orbit has been attempted. This statue is to forever remind each
generation of its responsibility to future generations. The universe anxiously
awaits our arrival.
As I take man's last step from the surface ... I'd like to say what I
believe history will record. That America's challenge of today has forged
man's destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the moon ... we leave as we came,
and God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.
Captain Eugene A. Cernan, USN (Ret.)