I remember the day of the landing very well. It was a Saturday. My dad and brother had gone down to a baseball game in Chicago. I assume they went to see the Cubs play since Sox Park was so far away from our house. (Turns out I was wrong on this. I did a little research on the internet. The Cube were in Philadelphia that day. The Sox were home playing Kansas City. It was a double header but I’m pretty sure they only went to one game. The Sox lost both games. The first game started around 3 that day) They went with friends of my brother. My mom and I went over to the friends house for a cook out that would happen when they got back from the game. We would then watch the first moon walk.
When my brother and dad got back from the game, they said there was an announcement at the game of the lunar module landing on the moon. There was spontaneous applause at this.
Everyone came back to the friend’s house. We had a cook out and then gathered around the TV to watch the moon walk. There were a lot of people at the house. Way too many to get a really good look at the TV. I and a few other decided to dash back to my house (I think my brother was with me as well). We had to run as fast as possible so we would get back in time and not miss it. We arrived at my house. I don’t remember how many people came along but there were probably five or six of us. We gathered around our 19 inch black and white TV set (which we had for years afterwards and ended up going to a cousin when she went off to college).
The grainy pictures from the moon were transmitted out to the world. One of the few times you could say the world more or less came to a halt to watch an event. Out came Neil Armstrong. And a few seconds later Armstrong’s famous words One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind, and then he was on the moon. I remember cheering coming from all of us in the room and cheering coming from neighbor’s houses as well. What an event. What a triumph.
What he actually said perhaps more to the point what Armstrong himself has said he spoke on that occasion:
Armstrong said immediately after the 1969 landing that he had been misquoted. He said he actually said, “That’s one small step for ‘a’ man.” It’s just that people just didn’t hear it.
Whatever it was, and, I happen to think it was what Armstrong said he said, it was an incredible moment. It altered forever how people viewed the accomplishments of mankind. It was something people born after that time or too young to remember the event that was part of history. Different from people who grew up during that time. The difference from the possibility of something happening to an established fact. A common place everyday know event.
It got me to thinking about the things we take for granted. How sure we are of things that are around us have always been around us. Think of the smart phone. 15 years ago very few people could have imagined what they could do. Now common day occurrence. There must be an app for that. I’m listening to my ipod. I’m not listening to a CD player. What a quaint idea that is a CD player. And yet the ipod, which revolutionized digital music, isn’t even 10 years old yet.
It made me start to think of how many other one small steps there have been. The small steps that I’ve lived through. The small steps my parents lived through and the small steps my grandparents lived through.
More on that in another post.
For now I honor the memory of an American hero who made one giant step forward for all mankind.