Friends to the moon and back

Tuesday, July 20

By Paloma Doti

On July 20, 1969, TVs all around the world were turned on. Teenagers and their parents forgot what they were fighting about. The dogs stopped barking and stood still. No cars could be heard, the streets were empty and if you stepped out of your house you could see pinpoints of light in the windows where everyone was watching the small step of man and the giant step of mankind.                 That floating rock that we see from our little place in the universe, was reached by man. And this is not only wonderful scientifically speaking, it was also mankind hugging the universe. It was mankind hugging each other. All united, taking a big step.  Or at least that's what Enrique Febbraro, an Argentinean dentist, thought.                                                                            
He was tired of patriotic dates that celebrated military, wars or revolutions. He thought that people should celebrate values and the people who carried them. That's why he came up with the idea of Friend's Day. Not friendship, a concept, an idea, a dictionary definition, but the day of the friend:, a person of flesh and blood who had those values.                                                                         That's how he stayed for years waiting for the right event, the historical moment that was glorious enough. An event about friendship.  Many important dates passed. He thought he had found the day when World War II ended and the UN was created. But he decided to wait a little bit longer for an event that was not the result of violence. And the day came.                                                          When the TV  with colorless pictures and a broken antenna showed man off the earth, Febbraro stuck his head out of the small window of his apartment in Buenos Aires and saw the moon. And for the first time it didn't seem big or far away. The moon was not impossible, humans could visit it. The universe did not seem an enigma or a mystery, the universe belonged to everyone, it was close, it was our friend. It was a glorious friendship.  It was Friends day. He quickly put his head back inside, sat down at his desk and began typing on his typewriter letters to over 1000 personalities from 100 different countries to convince them about his idea. July 20 was the date, July 20 was Friend's Day.                                                  
The people in his neighborhood thought he had gone crazy, but Enrique was very sure that friendship deserved July 20th.                                                                                                              
To the surprise of the neighbors who judged him, eight out of ten said they thought it was an excellent idea. With contacts, and friends, he was able to achieve his dream and in that same year in Argentina, July 20th was declared the day of the friend.                                          
July 20th is just another important holiday in Argentina. Only something as wonderful as friendship can make a man wait 20 years for the perfect date to celebrate it and write 1000 letters so that people from all over the world would want to celebrate it too.                                                                                                                                                                                                          
We are all distant, we are strangers, we are all in our own world. But sometimes, we can get to know each other and suddenly that person who seemed like an enigma or a mystery, is close, is always close, and is a friend. We are in the same giant universe and we choose to meet, to trust each other.                                                                                                        
Let's listen to this strange Argentinean dentist and celebrate man's hug to the moon. Going to visit your friend and reminding them how much you appreciate them is a small step for you and a big step for friendship.       

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