PLEASANT HILL, JULY 20, 2019 – It has been 50 years since the first man set foot on the moon. Two men became the face of the landing on the moon. They were part of a three man team that risked it all by being shot out of Earth’s orbit, moved two hundred and fifty thousand miles, entered orbit around the moon, landed a space craft that had less computational power than your calculator, made life and death decisions in fractions of seconds, and achieved the impossible: Landed on the moon.
Houston. Tranquility Base Here…
The Eagle has Landed
July 20, 1969
Surface of the moon
Neil Armstrong’s grainy 1969 television image makes him appear almost ghostly. I was eleven years old, I watched from the bedroom on a black and white television set, in Buenos Aires Argentina. The commentators stopped trying to interpret the words and allowed everyone to hear. For me, I could not understand the words, but I could grasp what I was seeing.
Years later it occurred to me, that my grandfather was born before the Wright brothers flew at Kittyhawk, and he had seen a man land on the moon, all of it in a mere sixty-six years. In five years, I’ll be sixty-six. I could not imagine anyone, ever again, seeing the changes he had seen. I was, obviously, proven wrong.
Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins could have been characters in a modern version of the Homeric Odyssey. The seven-year struggle to launch a rocket, to learn orbital mechanics, to create a combustion system powerful enough to shoot a man into orbit and then out of that orbit. Make that move at the precise time to meet a celestial body moving at incomprehensible speeds and acquire its gravitational pull to enter orbit.
This was not done by simply saying, “Standard orbit, Mr. Sulu”. Engineers at Mission Control had to figure out how to do it first. Then they had to test it. They had to get it right almost the first time.
John F. Kennedy set the tone, set the goal, and America’s competitive nature and scientific curiosity and prowess gave the opportunity for three men to travel to the moon and back.
Today I wonder if we truly understand what a truly Homeric moment that was. Nothing was guaranteed. No one gave anyone anything. No one asked anyone to give them anything but their very best. Was that the last of the Great Generation? Was that the generation’s crowning achievement?
Neil Armstrong was born in 1930. Buzz Aldrin was born in 1930. Michael Collins was born in 1930. What formed their personalities? What gave them their unique drive? Where did they get the courage to strap in atop that rocket? All three were driven, yet all three had different motivation, but all three put aside their differences, learned to work together, and achieved greatness.
We should not simply celebrate the landing on the moon. To do so is to cheat ourselves of the true legacy of the event. We should look at the amazingly national goal driven efforts of thousands to make a little of over three hours on the moon happen.
God Bless the Crew of Apollo 11, their families, the men who made it possible for them to be there, and the amazing country that inspired them to achieve the nearly impossible, and shortly thereafter made it seem mundane.
May we get to see a return to and a permanent settlement on the moon. Let there be a drive to colonize Mars. As President Kennedy said, “not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” Let it be done not as a replacement for all the other things we must do, but with all the other things we must do to keep this great nation at the forefront of what can be cone by Free minds, pooling together to achieve marvelously inspirational things.
God Bless you.
The Lee’s Summit Conservative.