40th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing, arrival still awaits

July 20, 2009

40 years ago three men realized a planet’s dream with NASA’s Apollo 11 moon landing.

The 60’s had many “I remember where I was” events, but the moon landing is my most vivid.

The RCA console in the living room corner, my disappointment that a “color” TV was showing such grainy black and white images, my shear “WOW” at seeing up close and live the landscape that I had previously only seen in a Kansas night sky.

Like any red-blooded American boy of the age I had gobbled up every spoon fed moment that Nasa and the Apollo program gave us during those years.

It’s hard to describe in this era of instantaneous gratification and the internet but we all had to just wait back then.  From the President down to the tiniest of the little folk, no one got a “scoop”, we all saw the moment at the same time.  Kennedy’s vision at last achieved and achieved the only way we knew how back then:  good old fashioned American grit and Yankee ingenuity.

Armstrong’s  infamous “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” was much more than just a quote to me, it was what America was all about.  An America that the world still remembered for saving it from the claws of evil just 25 years before, an America that had turned it’s wartime effort into an economic powerhouse, an America that had once again done what no other had done before.  After all, it wasn’t Russians, Germans, or Chinese up there, but three of us, Americans all.

I have always thought this country’s retreat from manned spaceflight was a mistake.  I believe strongly still that if this country looked more to the heavens than spending millions on a marsh mouse in San Francisco, the benefits would not only far outweigh the costs, but just might make us ALL feel American again.

Do yourself a favor and visit the home page of National Space Examiner, Patricia Phillips.  She has first hand knowledge of N.A.S.A., has written some great articles and is a wealth of information on the subject.

Author’s note:
The “Arrival” print was inspired by another astronaut, the “last man on the moon”, Eugene Cernan.  I had attended a dinner function at which Captain Cernan was the featured speaker.  His passion for space traveled beyond the podium and across the room.  As I penned the words in those early morning hours that night it was truly a mix of emotions; the joy of a young boy hearing Armstrong’s words, the sadness of a grown man lamenting Cernan’s words being so easily brushed off.

For insight on the entire Apollo program and a most relevant retrospective I highly recommend Cernan’s book “The Last Man on the Moon” available at Amazon.com

If you desire a copy of Arrival email me at gc@caldwellscorner.com for details.  A digital jpeg file licensed for personal use is available free of charge to readers of this column.

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