Jake Garn presents program to Emery High
Jake Garn visited Emery High on Friday and Endless Possibilities was the theme of his presentation. Garn was at the school by invitation of the Emery County Youth Councils. Garn wanted everyone to know he is a rural boy and not a Salt Lake City boy. He was born in Richfield. "I cannot describe what awaits you in the future. I could not have guessed my own life," said Garn.
Garn said he was a navy pilot for five years and with the Utah Air National Guard for 20 years as a pilot. He retired as a Brigadier General with 10,000 hours flight time. He was qualified to fly a space shuttle mission, although the media failed to mention all that they just said a Senator was forcing his way on a space flight. He said flight has come so far in the time he has been alive and his father was 10 at the time of the Wright Brothers first flight.
Garn said no matter what changes are in store for the future, the students must be trained to take advantage of whatever the future holds. They must train their brains for an uncertain future. "If someone had told me while I was in high school that I would one day fly in space, I wouldn't have believed them. I couldn't have planned for it, it didn't exist at the time. Push yourselves. Teachers who pushed me made it possible for me to take advantage of those opportunities as they came up. I was the 104th person in space. I recently attended a space convention with my friends who have shared that experience. There are less than 500 people who have been in space.
"On launch day we sat on the launch pad for nearly four hours, we thought we might not go because the window of opportunity was almost closed, but then we launched. I have a resting heart beat of 48 beats per minute, but with one million pounds of thrust my resting pulse at takeoff was 137. The space shuttle is powered by rocket boosters made in Utah. Within 8.5 minutes we were 125 miles above the earth and traveling 25 times faster than the speed of sound. Speed is amazing in space. In the 169 hours I spent in space I flew more miles than in my 10,000 flight hours on earth. This is a beautiful planet. I just don't have the words to describe how it feels looking back at earth. You can see the continents, the rivers, everything. It seemed unreal. It was a life changing experience. The Russian cosmonauts are my brothers and sisters. There are more galaxies out there. Earth is just a spec of dust. When you have looked back at earth then war just doesn't make much sense. We are all children of God and how we treat each other doesn't make sense. Space travel changes you, it just makes you feel fortunate to be a human being.
"Zero gravity and weightlessness is amazing, I blew myself across the cabin and almost went through the wall. Weightlessness is fun. In space you cannot drink without a straw. To prepare for reentry you have to drink a lot of water," said Garn.
Garn said one of the problems with long term space travel is maintaining the human body. Upon his arrival back on earth, he had trouble readjusting to gravity and even walking was difficult for a time. He still dreams about his space flight. "If a little kid from Richfield can have that experience then it wouldn't surprise me if some of you live on Mars. Opportunity will come if you prepare. If you can say, I can do that, you will be ready when opportunities come," said Garn.
Garn says he will never grow up and he can still do more pushups than his four sons combined, he recently rode his bike for 100 miles. He rollerblades with his grandkids to prepare for the ski season which he loves."I'm 76, but so what," said Garn.
Garn is also an organ donor and told of his kidney being in Washington DC with his daughter.
Garn answered questions from the students. Colton Judd wondered how Garn became involved in politics. His boss one time in the National Guard sent him to the Salt Lake commission to work out some problems the commission had been giving the guard concerning their base. One of the commissioners wasn't very helpful and told Garn, well if you don't like the job we're doing maybe you should run for commission and Garn being a little annoyed with the commissioner said, "Well maybe I will because any damn fool could do a better job than you guys." Garn was quoted in the press and he received a call from his mother who wasn't happy with Garn for swearing. But, he did end up running and defeated that commissioner and later became the mayor of Salt Lake and eventually ran for the senate where he served three terms.
Garn said he is disgusted with the current political climate in Washington with partisan politics. "We ought to be Americans before we are democrats or republicans. If I had hair I would tear it out," said Garn.
He stressed the need for term limits, he said politicians are so worried about their political future they don't do anything for the country. He said some people say why waste money in space and Garn tells them they haven't spent a penny in space, there aren't any stores there. All the money and jobs is put into the economy on earth. Without Thiokol where would Brigham City be. America has many inventions and basic research and development that came about because of the space program. One invention is Velcro. NASA is only 6/10ths of 1 percent of the nation's budget. "If we had term limits Congress would vote for the future. They need to shutup and sit down together and solve the problem," said Garn.
He said his father was is hero because he taught him to be honest. His father was a pilot and his pilot's license was signed by Orville Wright. Garn's father built most of the airports around the state. "I am successful because of what my father taught me," said Garn.
While serving in the Senate, Garn's wife died in a car accident and left him alone with four small children. He remarried and has been married 32 years and had three more children with his second wife.
Garn told the story of Hubert Humphrey who took Garn's two month old baby around and showed him off to the Senate and Congress. Humphrey was a great human being, even though Garn and Humphrey differed politically it didn't matter. They were friends.
Garn said he has always set goals for himself even if no one else knew about them.
Garn encouraged the students to explore the endless possibilities that might await them in the future and to be prepared.