Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Man On The Moon

Man On The Moon
Tuesday 07-20-2010 10:09am PT
A lot of people think it was the most famous event in history. It's hard to argue with them. It was on this date in 1969 that Neil Armstrong stepped off the ladder of the Lunar Module and into history. The boot of his space suit sunk into the gray moondust about an inch.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

"Magnificent desolation," was how Buzz Aldrin described it.
It was the age of American exceptionalism, as different from today's world as day and night. Back then we thought we could do anything! And we could! And we did! WE were the world's #1 superpower. WE were the good guys. WE were the men. We never felt guilty or self-conscious about it. The responsibility of being the big dog never slowed us down. I don't know how to express it to you- was just different.
I remember it well. I was on vacation with my parents in Ocean City, Maryland. We all watched it on TV and the next morning, outside the condo where we stayed, written in giant letters in the sand, someone had written- TODAY AN AMERICAN WALKED ON THE MOON, GOD BLESS AMERICA! I stared at the message for ten minutes, wondering who had written those words. They touched me. I felt proud to be an American. I felt like we were all part of a great moment in history, that things would never be the same. JFK issued the challenge, and it's a shame he wasn't around to see it.

The Saturn 5 rocket that blasted Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins into orbit was the most powerful engine ever created. What those three Apollo Astronauts did was incredibly dangerous. They could have died a hundred times during the trip. This could never happen today. People aren't into taking chances anymore. The spirit of exploration has waned in our collective psyche. But, back then, American astronauts were heroes, and they did impossible, amazing things.

The Apollo 11 technology was clunky and obsolete- the IBM computer that plotted their course wouldn't run a cell phone in today's world. The command module was cramped and primitive. The fact they made it 238,857 miles through space to the surface of the moon, then descended to the lunar surface, got out and walked around, then returned to their ship, blasted off, returned to the mother ship and traveled all the way back to earth is incredible!

America was a different place back then. We got things done. God, I miss it.

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