Monday, July 20, 2009

To the Moon, Neil! To the Moon!

As has already been noted in ... well, maybe a couple of places, it was 40 years ago today, on Sunday, July 20, 1969, that U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first set foot on Earth’s moon. As Wikipedia recalls, “The mission fulfilled President John F. Kennedy’s goal of reaching the moon by the end of the 1960s, which he had expressed during a speech given before a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961: ‘I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.’”

If memory serves, I was at home with my parents, watching that landing on an undersized black-and-white television. The dimensions of our set did nothing to minimize the enormity of the endeavor being undertaken. Humankind had finally shed the shackles of gravity and reached out to begin covering the moon in bootprints and discarded exploration devices. Despite the rantings of some oddballs, who have convinced themselves that it’s all a hoax, there were five more Apollo missions that took men to the moon, but none of their landings seemed quite as breathtaking as that first one. I’m only sorry that CBS-TV newsman Walter Cronkite, who found himself speechless at the moment when the lunar module Eagle touched down on the satellite’s surface, couldn’t be here to celebrate this anniversary with the rest of us. He died on Friday.

READ MORE:What If the Apollo Moon Landing Didn’t Happen Under Cronkite’s Watch?” by Danny Gallagher (TV Squad); “Apollo 11 Footage Missing” (TV Obscurities); “40 Years Ago,” by Brent McKee (I Am a Child of Television); “Of a Moment on the Moon, and Another on TV,” by Michael Carlson (Irresistible Targets).

1 comment:

Peter Rozovsky said...

I was away at summer camp for the first time, and my group was at nature study at the moment of the landing. I remember this because the nature-study leader plugged in a television outside the barn for us to watch the landing.
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