No matter our age, there will always be dates that stand out for their significance either personally or on a national scale of importance and historic relevance. One of those dates is July 20, 1969.
Before I proceed on this path, I’ll go ahead and put it out there: I’m one of those skeptics about the whole moon landing brouhaha.
A few weeks ago, I had mentioned that my parents insisted I watch the major event in space travel and what a coup it was for the United States to be the first to reach the moon.
I was five days shy of my 13th birthday, so an American walking on the moon wasn’t high on my list of how to use my time. But, my parents did not concede. My sister had already left for Virginia Tech to start her freshman year, so the daughter who had zero interest in NASA and space was forced to “sit down and watch -- history is being made.”
When asked about dates that stand out in my lifetime, I usually remember Nov. 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. I was 7 years old and a second grade student. The school custodian came running down the wide hallway in tears very vocally exclaiming that “The President has been assassinated.” A hush fell over the class as our teacher proceeded to explain that word assassination.
OK, fast forward six years to a July night when Neil Armstrong exited Apollo 11 to take a step and speak these words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Sadly, JFK did not live to see his dream of space travel become reality. His a goal was to land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s.
How many of you know someone who is skeptical about the moon landing? I have a friend who will debate to his last breath that it was staged in Burbank, California. I’ve got to admit -- there were times he made me think twice.
What I do know is that a pre-teen witnessed an event that changed how we view the night sky and wonder about what is out there.
Fifty years later, I can recall that grainy black and white image coming across the TV. Mom, Dad and I were gathered in the living room -- joining everybody in the country -- in seeing history being made live.
Here’s to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the second man to make that walk.