“Love saved us” Central Valley poet’s words immortalized for space journey

Local News

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — A Central Valley-native poet will have his words inscribed on a plaque bound for a 12-year space mission to investigate the origin of our solar system.

NASA’s “Lucy” spacecraft is taking a 12-year mission to the Trojan asteroids, a group of small bodies that are left over from the formation of the solar system. “Lucy” will study asteroids’ surface geology, color and compositions, all to form a detailed image of what these surfaces look like. All that can be seen at this time are points of light where the asteroids are.

“Lucy” will carry a plaque with messages from people like Albert Einstein, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Yoko Ono and Paul McCartney.

Among the esteemed list of participants, Central Valley-native Juan Felipe Herrera has landed a place on the space-bound plaque.

“Really this is for the Valley, and for my parents who were farmworkers, and for students, and for youth and for everyone,” Herrera said of the honor.

Herrera shared a portion of the inscription translated from its original Spanish.

“Earth was divided. There was hate. There was sickness. The arctic sliding. We gathered. We flourished. Kindness healed us. Lucy carried us. Tumbling through planetesimal trails. Love saved us. Who will we be? Compassion. Science. Humanity. Light.”

“¡Adelante, adelaaante, Lucy! Todos del pueblo cantaron millones de millas recorrimos celestes Trojans, el ojo de Júpiter, el Sol 2,000,000 de años jinetes solares forjados de esperanza — ¿Amor? la tierra estaba dividida hubo odio hubo enfermedades la ártica deslizándose nos reunimos florecimos la bondad nos sanó dando tumbos, Lucy nos protegió por senderos planetesimales el amor nos salvó ¿Quienes seremos? Compasión Humanidad—Luz.”

Kindness, compassion, humanity and unity were the vital messages Herrera wanted to pass through the cosmos.

“With those words as gateways, we would solve all the conflicts we’re facing today,” Herrera explains.

The plaque, a time capsule in its own right, will be in space for over 2 million years.

Of his Central Valley origin, the former U.S. Poet Laureate says he gives thanks for his farmworker parents expressing that his mother would likely be crying tears of happiness to see this momentous occasion.

“Her mission was accomplished, and my father’s mission was accomplished by teaching me and encouraging me and showing me the fact that we can cut through boundaries and borders and closed parameters,” Herrera says.

“We can reach all the way to the stars.”

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