AMBASSADOR BLANCHARD’S REMARKS
Noordung Center, Vitanje
September 2, 2020
Dober dan, vsem
I thank you all for hosting us today, and for the support you’ve shown, the work you’ve done, and the excitement we’ve shared in making this day possible.
I also understand that members of the team that worked on Slovenia’s ground-breaking satellites are here today. I’d like to extend a special greeting to these pioneers. While I understand the launch has been delayed again, I look forward to a successful launch in the future.
Well, to say that I’m excited to be here today would be an understatement.
To be honest with you, despite all our careful planning, when COVID-19 hit, we never thought we’d be able to pull this thing off.
When I became Ambassador to Slovenia, I committed to achieving quite a bit during my time here.
And while I always wanted to reach for the stars, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be bringing the moon to Slovenia.
But here we are, and I still think it’s unbelievable.
Friends, we are gathering today to welcome the first lunar sample to ever visit Slovenia, and to open one of the most unique and incredible exhibits on space exploration that Slovenia has ever seen.
We do so in a small ceremony, acknowledging the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lives it has touched around the world.
And we understand that, in celebrating this remarkable collaboration, we do not lose sight of the challenges that continue to face us all.
Instead, as we look to overcome these difficult times, we turn to those things that most inspire us.
We look to those achievements and victories that tell us that all things are possible. That no goal is unattainable.
That no planet is too distant.
Slovenians and Americans share this drive to learn and explore, and we take seriously our commitments to pushing the bounds of what is possible.
From Herman Potočnik Noordung’s ground-breaking ideas—ideas that were light-years ahead of his time, and which laid the conceptual foundation for the international space station.
To Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 mission in 1969, and the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 that brought us the sample that now sits 20 meters from where I stand.
We share the excitement and the possibility of a new age of space travel, as Slovenia prepares to launch its own satellites for the first time, fulfilling a century-old promise to explore the stars. And we look up, once again, to the moon, as NASA prepares our ambitious return in 2024.
Together, we understand that—as our four Slovene-American astronauts prove—we are stronger together than we could ever be apart.
In fields as diverse as education, business, and technology, Slovenians and Americans have long enjoyed close, productive relationships.
We study and learn together, we do business together, and yes—we reach the stars together.
These collaborations are not just thriving, they’re accelerating.
In recent months, we welcomed the Secretary of State to Slovenia for a landmark visit that reflects the importance of our bilateral relationship.
We’ve agreed to work closer together to ensure the security of our personal data, and the privacy of our communications—critical tools in performing the research and collaboration that, among many other things, puts women and men into space.
We’re working together with Slovenian partners to explore more mutually-beneficial collaborations in nuclear technology, business security, national defense, educational exchanges, and cybersecurity.
And as it always has been, it is our work together that makes greater things possible.
There’s a famous story from NASA that seems appropriate today. President Kennedy took a tour of NASA in 1962, shortly after he challenged all Americans to come together to put American astronauts on the moon. He saw a janitor cleaning a floor, and introduced himself.
“Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?”
The janitor didn’t miss a beat. He looked up at the President of the United States with the broom in his hand and said:
“Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon.”
And this is the essence of why I believe this exhibit is so important.
It not only tells a story about our past, it inspires us to a better future. One that we can only reach through teamwork, and selfless dedication to a brighter tomorrow.
Indeed, the moon rock upstairs and Commander Armstrong’s suit are not just exhibits in a museum—they are, individually and collectively, monuments to what we can achieve when we work as a team.
They tell us that through cooperation, hard work, and dedication to a better future, we can reach the very stars above.
I thank you all for coming today, and I hope that as you enjoy this exhibit, you reflect on how our relationship with Slovenia made these achievements possible.
From Herman Potocnik Noordung, who dreamed of life among the stars; to Anton Mavretič, whose work has travelled with the Voyager program to the deepest reaches of space; to the leadership of our Slovenian-American astronauts.
Thank you for your friendship, your time, and your imagination.
Hvala lepa, vsem!