I am very disappointed in our media today. I was very excited to wake up this afternoon & find coverage today about one of the most momentous days in the history of the United States. Nothing! There was coverage about the Jonas Brothers, most about Michael Jackson, Health Care Reform, but nothing at all about the day 40 years ago when Neil Armstrong became the first man every to walk on the surface of the Moon. I had to search and found one tiny article about Buzz Aldrin. What is wrong with people today? I'm so disappointed that most people have no idea who Neil Armstrong even is! Maybe it is because of my age, and the fact that to me the mission to the Moon was such a big part of my life while growing up.
I spent my childhood in a suburb of Los Angeles during the late 50 early 60s. I can still remember when I got my issue of My Weekly Reader. I was just learning to read and would sit for hours going over every single word making my parents listen to me. One day I was reading about John Glenn being the first American astronaut in Space. I had no idea what an astronaut was, so I read it to my Dad asking him questions. He then told me that John Glenn was from Ohio where we originally came from. Then he took out a children's book of knowledge (maybe it was called that, will have to ask Mom), and showed me pictures of the Solar System. I was hooked! I had to read everything about the planets and the astronauts. I was obsessed with the Mercury Missions and wanted to see all those men brave enough to sit on top of a huge rocket & get propelled into Space. Heck, I wanted to be an astronaut. My Dad would let me stay home to watch every launch of the Mercury mission, and then later on with every Apollo mission. I saved Life magazine articles, and begged older adults to explain big words to me when I'd get stumped. My teachers helped me explore my fascination with the planets, and encouraged all students to do the same. So there I would be shut up in our house watching in glorious black and white the images from lift off to splash down.
On this day, July 20th, 40 years ago we were living in Portsmouth Ohio. It was a steamy typical Ohio Summer night. My Dad had grilled out hamburgers for us as a treat for this special day. He made us root beer floats, and all of use sat in our house with a small fan blowing hot air over all 7 of us watching Walter Cronkite talking to this person or that person waiting for THE MOMENT just was we were. Tension was so high! We were afraid to leave the room or else that minute in history would be gone. Then the there he was! Neil Armstrong stepped out of the LEM, and was climbing down the steps. In a crackling voice we heard his words as he put his foot down onto the Lunar surface. We all jumped up & yelled. I still remember that iconic scene when Walter was so happy he took off his glasses, wiped his eyes & smiled like a goof in front of all of America. He was so proud at that moment...and so were we. My Dad was so excited that he told us all to come out back. As a surprise he's found a pair of binoculars and we all took turns looking at the Moon trying to see the Astronaut walking on the Moon's Face. It was such a spectacular night. I couldn't sleep and would peek out the upper bedroom mirror looking at the radiant beams of a place Man now walked on. I spent the next days nervous until finally news came through that the Astronauts were safe. Whew...it was so thrilling to be alive that day.
So though the rest of the world has decided to ignore this day, I will sit here and remember how exciting it was to be alive on that day. To look up at the shining Moon face and realize that it was really a place and not a picture in my books. Maybe the Nightly News will have something about this glorious day, but I'm sure there will other reports about some celebrity getting divorced. Our world is so different. Our views have changed, but deep in my heart, I still hold true to that thrilling time when Men wanted to reach out for the Stars, and they did!
ps...I just turned on my favorite television station...TCM (Turner Classic Movies), and they are showing movies with the theme of the Moon...so I guess someone does care. Right now is a movie that Robert Heinlein wrote the script for. I'm going to watch that while I cook dinner.