40 years ago today, 600 million people worldwide were huddled around their black and white television sets sharing in one of humankind's most glorious accomplishments; two guys walking on the moon.
Their names were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. It was NASA's Apollo 11 mission. Along with Michael Collins, the third crew member who stayed with the module while the others took a stroll, it took Apollo 11 four days to make the journey having lifted off on July 16th from the Kennedy Space Center.
I was four years old at the time and my parents, like so many others that day, had the foresight to put us tykes in front of the television with the quiet reverence usually saved for church and told in hushed tones to watch this moment in history; so we could tell our children and grandchildren about it one day.
Well, today is that "one day" and this is what I'll be sharing with my kids.
First, I'll show them this clip.
Then, I will tell them what I remember most; the grainy picture, never seeing my parents so spellbound, the boredom waiting for "the moment", the excitement when it finally did.
We lived in Houston, TX; ground zero for space program mania. In Houston, NASA astronauts were modern day gods; larger than life heroes. Along with every kid on my block, we were all obsessed with going to space. While other kids may have played cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians; we played Neil and Buzz.
For Christmas that year, my Dad gave me a choice between a club house size playhouse or a space capsule. I took the space capsule, of course. I remember stepping out of it with my Mom's laundry bag taking a slow motion high stepping walk around the house gathering various objects laying around pretending that I was collecting moon rocks. We sipped our hot cocoa from NASA mugs in the winter. Moon landing posters adorned my older brother's bedroom walls.
A lot went into making that walk happen; years of successes and failures. It was the culmination and collaboration of some of the most brilliant minds of its time. It was the spark that ignited the computer revolution.
It was validation that you can never dream too big.
And that's why we must never stop telling the story of that day.
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