PREFACE: For this BlogCast, playing back these two YouTube clips simultaneously allows Neil Armstrong to become an astronaut / DJ doing the talk-over intro to the Police track, Walking on the Moon.
On Sunday, July 20, 1969 at 10:56 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Neil Armstrong became the first (known) human to ever set foot on the Moon… and moments later, Buzz Aldrin joined him to become the second.
This “giant leap for (hu)mankind” had been the attainment of John F. Kennedy’s goal… that young visionary giant’s dream fulfilled… AND the culmination of a team effort involving an estimated 400,000 engineers, scientists and technicians… many of them having taken their President’s message to heart.
My own memories of this night center on the combined sense of heartfelt awe, thrills, and yes, even a bit of national pride… heady emotions, which managed to shadow me wherever I wound up. And there had been an abundance of brilliant light to create those shadows… be that the Apollo 11 crew’s beamed back to Earth lunar “Reality Show” (accompanied by CBS journalist / anchorman Walter Cronkite’s own play-by-play) OR during my own repetitious “small step” ventures into the great outdoors to naked-eye gaze upward at the waxing crescent phased Moon… lazily arcing SE to SW across Michigan’s after dark skies.
This past half century has not diminished my own wonderment one iota. I only wish that all who, alongside me, had eye-witnessed this event of the millennium could say the same… and that we… who never lost that rush… had better communicated our feelings to posterity.
Humankind needs an Apollo magnitude sense of accomplishment to transcend the daily drill. If for no other reason, that does keeps us out of trouble. But there really is one far greater reason, too. Without such adventure, humanity risks being reduced to droids… maybe even the Borg magnitude drones that inhabit Sci-Fi’s Star Trek universe.
9:32 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. That’s this day’s official blog posting time. This also precisely synchronizes with that 50 yester-years ago moment in time when the Apollo 11 Saturn-V, 1st stage, 5 Rocketdyne F-1 engines (literally) roared to life to send astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins soaring upward and into the annals of human history… their ultimate date with destiny… The Moon / Sunday, July 20, 1969.
At that meticulously mapped and scheduled space / time, Armstrong would become the first (known) human to ever set foot on the surface of another world… which had been an apogee moment / a dream fulfilled… the dream of the bold, think big, visionary: President John F. Kennedy.
Armstrong’s Tranquility Base moonwalk would begin by precisely aligning his words and deeds to take his “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Regrettably, a scant three years later, small-minded and tightfisted naysayers deemed space exploration a monumental waste of time and assets… money better spent on solving our earthly problems.
Such hastily fired off, retrorocket rationale does beg the question on this auspicious day in human history…
Just what did we actually gain from the NIxonian decision to pull the plug on NASA’s manned space program? Has not that same small mindedness and tightfistedness severely crippled virtually every attempt at working towards the betterment of our society / world?
True, the Space Shuttle program did usher in a new era of human space exploration… but… that was in low Earth orbit. Our astronauts were restricted to literally running around in circles.
The same can be said about earthbound problem solvers who lack that “one giant leap” type of thinking. Seeing how our worldly woes have yet to be effectively dealt with, would you not agree this has been a half century long waste of time and money?
On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, had fulfilled President John F. Kennedy’s May 25, 1961 commitment to land men on the Moon by decade’s end. Armstrong, descending the Lunar Excursion Module’s ladder, had become the first human being to ever set foot and walk upon an alien world.
Over the decades, since, there have been naysayers, who’ve always been quick to remind us that the tax dollars could’ve and should’ve been spent more wisely. But, I’d also be quick to remind everyone that this bold adventure did unite humanity. And the value of that is as vast as the immensity of the universe, itself.
Nearly four years ago, Armstrong’s mortality caught up with him. While his spirit did merge with the universe, in the lunar vacuum his footprints will endure until our Sun dies billions of years from now.
Not a bad way for anyone to leave one’s mark upon our world… upon two worlds.
Tonight’s Moon will be in a nearly full phase… so, weather permitting, I urge you to set aside your worldly concerns… to step outside to take an upward glance… to think about Neil and Buzz’s uplifting accomplishment and try to recapture that spirit of unity.