“Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.
-W. Clement Stone
Yes, it really happened. On July 20th, 1969, families gathered to watch the greatest historical event that had ever occurred. Children, teen-agers, young adults, parents and grandparents sat in their living rooms together. They sat on sofas, chairs, on the arms of chairs, even on the floor. Three astronauts had been chosen to make the historic trip from Earth on Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins.
All over the globe, people gathered to watch the moon landing on television sets that today would seem very antiquated. They saw two Americans, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin take a stroll on the moon. The two astronauts wore cumbersome space suits with backpacks of oxygen to help them breathe.
Four days after the launch from Kennedy Space Center, the spaceship drew close to the surface of the moon. Before it touched down, the three astronauts went to various stations. Michael Collins boarded the Columbia, which was the spacecraft’s command module. Collins would stay in orbit, circling the moon. Armstrong and Aldrin entered the Eagle, Apollo 11’s lunar module and started the descent to the moon.
After about six hours, Armstrong and Aldrin prepared to exit the Eagle. Since Armstrong was the mission commander, he was the first one out—so he became the first person on the moon.
Buzz Aldrin descended the ladder and joined his partner a few minutes later. The two read the following words from a plaque “they came in peace for all mankind.” Then they placed the United States’ flag on the surface of the moon.
Astronaut Neil Armstrong snapped a picture of Buzz Aldrin after they planted the flag of the United States on the moon’s surface. Aldrin’s footprint is still visible in a crater near the Sea of Tranquility.
Then the astronauts began gathering moon rocks and dust to bring back to Earth.
Apollo 11 and its crew traveled to the moon, it entered the annals of history. The astronauts arrived back on Earth on July 24, 1969. During the next decade, more astronauts would follow the path forged by Apollo 11.
Recently, some have dared to claim that the moon landing was a hoax. Those who lived at that time and are old enough to remember just smile and shake their heads at such folly. They will tell you that the lunar landing did certainly occur and it made an indelible imprint on their lives. Before that, people could only dream about going to the moon.
Much has been said about global connections, but no event will ever touch the sense of unity that prevailed when people all over the world watched the “Man on the Moon.”