This afternoon I’ve been listening to the audio feed from the Kennedy Library, “We Choose the Moon,” the broadcast of the communications between Houston and the Apollo 11 astronauts during their flight to the
moon in July, 1969. As I’m listening now, the LEM has separated and they are preparing for landing. It’s exciting to listen to this today, remembering that amazing time 40 years ago when I was glued to the TV set with the rest of the world, waiting to hear if they actually landed or not. What wonderful, positive event could we imagine today that would have that sort of impact? The everyday, constant 24/7 news chatter we live with seems to pound any event into paste after a few minutes, and the correspondents don’t seem to be expected to be knowledgeable about anything. Walter Cronkite died a few days ago and the media coverage reminds us of a time when expertise and experience were prized attributes among journalists.
I now work at a university and am surrounded by wonderful young people; they’re full of great energy, curiosity, and enthusiasm but it seems to me they take so many things for granted. They have no idea of how amazing it was to be caught up in the manned space flight saga: Shepard, Grissom, and Glenn, Mercury and Gemini, the Apollo 1 fire, the Apollo 8 Christmas Eve moon orbiting, and then…the Landing On The Moon. What a thrill it is to visit the Smithsonian and see the actual command module….this tiny tin can went to The Moon!
The audio crackles again as I listen this afternoon…The Eagle Has Landed. Time compresses and it is 1969 once more. We are all stunned, then begin breathing again. The whole world together in an instant for a spectacular, non-destructive, never-before event. Wordsworth had it right: “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive/But to be young was very heaven!”