Monday, July 20, 2009

Where were you?

“ the constant sunlight between the earth and the moon, it was necessary for us to control the temperature of our spacecraft by a slow rotation not unlike that of a chicken on a barbecue spit. As we turned, the earth and the moon alternately appeared in our windows. We had our choice: we could look toward the moon, toward Mars, toward our future in space or we could look back toward the earth, our home, with its problems spawned over more than a millennium of human occupancy.

We looked both ways. We saw both, and I think that is what our nation must do.”
--Lt. Col. Michael Collins, Address to a Joint Session of Congress, Sept 16, 1969

It was July 20th, 1969 and Lt. Col. Michael Collins orbited the moon while his two colleagues and fellow astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made history by being the first human beings to walk on the surface of another world, that big piece of rock we call the moon. Reading the quote from Michael Collins gives one the sense that some things haven't changed much in 40 years.

I was 10 years old that historic summer and I was spending part of my summer vacation visiting with my sister and her family in Michigan. Although we had been watching the reports of the mission throughout the day, and had actually cheered when Neil Armstrong's voice came thru saying "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." My nephew and I were a little disappointed that the actual moonwalk had been scheduled for the middle of the night, and being kids, we decided to turn our attention to other pursuits. I remember being in the middle of a Monopoly game with the family, taking a break waiting for my sister to bring in some potato chips and her delicious clam dip as my brother-in-law hushed us all and nodded toward the television. I think it was Walter Kronkite who was doing the newscast, but we were all glued to the set as we watched Neil Armstrong descending the small ladder of the lunar module, and planting his foot in the soft dust of the lunar surface. Looking back on it, I can still remember the sense of wonder that I felt to think that men were actually walking on the moon! Hearing Neil Armstrong utter those immortal words "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" is still etched in my memory... along with my 5 year old nephew's question to his dad - "Can we see him from here?"

40 years have passed and man has made a couple more trips to the moon - although there are some who will say that perhaps it never happened...that the entire program was a hoax - why was the flag fluttering, why were the shadows falling in strange patterns, why were there no stars in the sky - I'm sure you've probably heard about one or two if not all of the inconsistencies relating to our early moon landings. Did it happen? All I can say for sure is that at least one young girl, sitting in a family room in Michigan, munching on chips and clam dip, believed in her heart that an incredible feat had been accomplished... and to this day, she often looks up at the moon and stars in the night sky and wonders where mankind's journeys will lead him to next. May we always look to the future, but never forget where we came from along this journey through the history of mankind.

I would love to hear your memories of what you were doing when you first heard of or saw Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the moon. If you weren't born yet, perhaps you can ask your parents or siblings for their remembrances! Please share!


Expressions By Devin said...

I have no memories I wasn't born yet lol but very interesting blog

Splendid Little Stars said...

enjoyed this post. I don't know why, I just don't remember exactly what I was doing that day. watching it on TV for sure.

FELT 4U said...

I remember very well what I was doing. Feeding my son who was 3.5 mts and my niece who was 2mts ( her mother a nurse on night duty was asleep) and listening to the radio. Bear in mind folks that South Africa only got TV in 1976 months

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