Last Sunday evening, an appropriately stellar if graying group of accomplished businessmen, civic leaders, physicians and attorneys gathered privately in a tree-circled meadow near Lake Waco beneath a majestic full moon to discuss Putinism and its spread across America and the globe. But before debate could commence, the beaming white orb overhead demanded proper tribute, if only because of what happened there almost 50 years ago that evening. One by one, each earthling assembled recalled where he was when the lunar module Eagle landed in the Sea of Tranquility and astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot in gray moon dust.

If one wants to understand why our republic is in crisis, consider the embarrassment now unfolding in Washington. Consider four freshmen congresswomen clearly more concerned about satisfying their oversized egos and living up to their press releases than shaping policy and demonstrating leadership. Consider too a narcissistic president who regularly confirms the worst suspicions so many citizens have about him and his party when it comes to racism, lies and balderdash.

Amidst the Cold War and competition with the Soviet Union, American pride was clearly evident on July 20, 1969, when the United States won the race to the moon. Perhaps that was one day of unity and particular regard for the American spirit, wrapped neatly in the very picture of accomplishment. The image of the flag of the United States on the moon, a distant heavenly body, is as important in the collective American memory as the flag raised on Iwo Jima in World War II or flying in tattered reserve over ground zero after Sept. 11, 2001. Our flag is often a symbol of American resolve, spirit and strength.

Ever since humans have looked up at the night sky, there have been wild theories about the moon and its power over us. Some — like the idea that it’s made of cheese or that it has canals and alien life — have been thoroughly debunked, while others still have a wide audience. Nearly 20 million Americans think the moon landing of July 1969 was faked by the U.S. government. Here are five myths that maintain a hold on many people’s imaginations.

Flashback

What were we talking about one year ago? Take a look back.

In these days when all the world seems to be imploding, I don’t know what is mine to do. I turn my heart to this and then to that and the next day there is a new insult to humanity and nature. I dizzy myself with the actions around me that I find abhorrent, immoral and unAmerican. Where do I focus when there no longer is a greater vision? I gave up asking “How much worse can it get?” as I did in the early days. Now I know there is no limit to how bad it can get. We witness a freefall of narcissism that builds like a snowball racing downhill, growing ever bigger as it flings protests aside effortlessly.

Eighteen months into his presidency, Donald Trump continues to display near-complete ignorance about how NATO works and why the alliance matters. He tweets that the United States gives 4 percent of its GDP to NATO. (Not so: We spend 4 percent on defense; we actually contribute less than $500 million directly to NATO for its combined civil and military budgets, or less than one-10th of 1 percent of our defense budget.) He sees NATO as a charity project for Europeans rather than a cornerstone of U.S. national security. And, as we learned from his Fox News interview with Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night, he is willing to call into question Article 5 — the alliance’s mutual defense provision. He appears either unable to comprehend that an ironclad commitment to Article 5 is at the heart of NATO or is purposefully undermining the alliance in the wake of his traitorous performance in Helsinki.