If you don’t have plans for July 20, wait until nightfall. Find a comfortable spot in the backyard, snuggle down in a favorite chair, and look up. Do you see the moon? It’s been shining down on Earth since before our time. There are many wonderful pictures of our only natural satellite, but nothing compares to that silver disk that lights our skies every night.
Now, try to see it all in reverse; you’re up there looking down here. Does your imagination need a little help? Think about the year 1969 and the Apollo 11 landing. Pretend you’re Buzz Aldrin or Neil Armstrong. It took 12 minutes to reach orbit around the earth. Three days later, you saw the dark side of the moon. It took one more day to ensure a safe landing. Each and every breath was a new experience and countless details consumed you. What went through your mind?
There was that flap with the atheist. She sued NASA and demanded there be nothing religious in your broadcasts from space. However, the launch coverage drowned out her lawsuit. Millions of us watched your spectacular liftoff and we held our breath while you made that final drop and put man on the moon. The Eagle landed.
You originally named it Snoopy and called the command module Charlie Brown. NASA public relations objected, so your bosses suggested Haystack and Snow Cone. Thank goodness your crew came up with Columbia and the Eagle. “The Haystack has landed” lacks a certain nobility.
Descending nine rungs down the ladder put you on the surface. That one small step turned into a giant leap and the whole world cheered. You couldn’t hear it, but you surely felt it. The Apollo 11 landing made history, and you watched a planet of blue pearl rise over the moonscape. We look up at the moon and dream about how we looked to you from all the way up there.
We must have seemed incredible; you certainly were.