2157 - Blue Skies on Mars
After almost forty years of trial and tragedy, Mars is officially classified as an oxygen-sustaining environment. A memorial to those who passed in the Great Mars Tragedy of ’25 is unveiled after the official declaration with Senator Stephen Nguyen as the keynote speaker.
This is a transcript of his speech:
My brother Sean loved to build. When we were kids, I was the one who played sports and ran for Student Congress, he was always tinkering with things. It wasn’t weird in our house to suddenly come home to the DistroBox disassembled and arranged on the living room floor or Sean crawling around the ventilation shafts because he heard a clicking. There was one time, and I could never prove it, but I think he got to the dog. He was ten, mind you, ten years old and already that gifted. Maybe gifted is the wrong word, because it wasn’t just his talent, it was his curiosity and the absolute joy he got from breaking something apart and seeing how all the pieces mattered. As the years went by, we sort of drifted apart. He was just my weird, nerdy little brother who kept taking apart my stuff. We went to school on opposite sides of the world. He studied engineering and physics, a surprise to no one. I did my thing.
As adults, we would check in from time to time but I wouldn’t say we were particularly close. More like acquaintances than brothers. We were just too different. I liked the Phoenix Five, he thought they were derivative. I thought the new Citizenship program was an important way to reward the people who actively want to build a stronger nation. He thought it was elitist. And so it went.
Many years ago, when I won my first district seat, Sean showed up to the victory party. I think an aide must have invited him. To be honest, it never occurred to me to even try. Someone on my staff said they saw him in the corner, obviously uncomfortable around the crowd. He didn’t even come talk to me, just wrote a note and asked someone to give it me. Here’s what it said:
“Hey Stephen, you looked like you had a lot of people to talk to so I didn’t want to interrupt. But I just wanted to say, you’re awesome, man. I know we bicker and fight but it gives me hope that someone who really believes in their convictions is going into government. It’s really exciting and I’m so happy for you. Just remember, no matter what ugliness surrounds you, be brave, be yourself, and you’ll be fine.”
My brother Sean. Sean the destroyer. Sean the rebuilder. Sean was one of the many lost in the Tragedy of 2125. Since then, I’ve never been able to hear one of his aggravating rants on politics or one of his ridiculously dull ramblings about alloys and stress-points. It is a solace that the project that claimed my brother’s life has now been completed. This monument, a small consolation compared to the loss of these people, will at least keep their names alive for the rest of humanity to see forever.
You know what? Forgive my bluntness but screw that. I don’t want people to look at this memorial and be quiet and introspective. I want the names chiseled into this rock to spark a fire in them, a fire to challenge themselves, to challenge humanity. I want the names on this rock to be a battle cry for all of us to excel, to burst out into the universe and find our destiny.
So in the words of my stupid little brother, be brave everyone. Be yourself. And we’ll all be fine.
// END TRANSMISSION