Monday, July 20, 2009

40th anniversary of Apollo 11

Most people my age can remember where they were and what they were doing on days of tragedy... Kennedy's assassination, Elvis's death (okay, so maybe it was just my sister Joan and me), the Challenger explosion, 911... among others.

But among the sadness there was one amazing, sparkling, golden moment when one was proud to be an American and the world held its' collective breath. That was the moment Neil and Buzz landed on the moon (and Michael Collins was orbiting it). I've heard estimates that 1/5th of the world's population watched the live telecast.

I remember the days the spacecraft headed for the moon and the excitement leading up to those words "the Eagle has landed". Later those words, "One small step for "a" man, one giant leap for mankind".

Armstrong swears he put in the "a" and people didn't hear it correctly. As a fellow Midwesterner, I believe him. We don't say "AAAAA", we say "uuuhhhhh" so some would hear the "for uhhh man" and miss it, especially East coast type people.

Not to mention any names.... certain people from New England who like to tease us about our cornfields and soybeans. But I digress...

Like so many in my generation, I was fascinated with space travel and with NASA. I wanted to be an astronaut, which is hard to believe today since I'm claustrophobic and hate to fly. But it wasn't about the flying... it was the magic of it all.

All that science, and math, and engineering... slide rules and pencils in pocket protectors... computers that took up an entire chilled room.

I've always had a thing for engineers. Even if they are weird. I married one, I have lots of friends who are engineers, and my son is minoring in engineering... believe me. They are a peculiar people.

Sometimes we talk about the "good old days" and they probably were not quite as fun and interesting as we remember. But not the space race... it was everything and more. It defined a generation which was full of hope for the future, a passion for science, and national pride to "beat the Russians" in the race for space.

We could use a lot more of that today.

I still am and always will be... proud of everyone who works for, in, with... and around... NASA.

7 comments: said...

I was blessed to have met and talked to Neil Armstrong on several occasions. I remember being so impressed to meet a "real astronaut" when I was a child. He is a very private person and did not talk much about that special day in our country's history.

Vee said...

Yes, it's a wonderful group of scientists who have done so much for this country and the world. I thank them every time I think of flexible hoses. I remember that day well as I was ill on the sofa with a nasty summer flu, but I wasn't going to miss watching for anything.

Anonymous said...

Yes I remember it too...I watched with my family. We were soooo excited and nervous watching it. My parents were I think, even more excited than I was. They had been children when the very first planes came out then to see a space ship go to the moon ALL IN ONE LIFETIME. That really was a giant step for mankind!! Jody

Mrs.Rabe said...

I remember my parents got my older brother and I up to watch it on tv - my dad took polaroids of it off the tv!

My dad's dad worked as a supervisor or something like that on the giant Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center - where they used to "assemble" the giant rockets. Now they store the shuttles there!

I remember being in such awe when watching the movie "Apollo 13" and the scientists had to figure the equation for being able to get them back to earth - they all used slide rules - and all got the exact same answer!

What an amazing time to live!

Duchess of Tea said...

Lovely lovely blog, I enjoyed myself and will return to read more. I am now a proud follower of your blog.
Duchess xx

Packrat said...

Yes, I remember the landing, too. Where has our pride gone?

As to engineers being peculiar - that is really funny. My daughter and I just had this discussion the other day. She is sort of dating an engineer and her best friend (engineering major) is doing an internship for NASA this summer.

Molly said...

Thank you for sharing your lovely blog and memories of Apollo 11. It means a lot to our family, too, since my father-in-law had a part of the recovery mission on the USS Hornet. We were so proud to share his story with our hometown:

Have a lovely week!