The narrator says, "The silver wings that would carry Gene Kranz aloft were born not of laughter, but fire." This is a reference to the famous poem "High Flight" by RCAF pilot John Gillespie Magee; the poem's first lines are, "Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth, and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings." See more
When you step into that console, you accept the responsibility for the life of the crew, the success of the mission, and you're doing it in full view of the entire world.