A Giant Leap for Mankind …

Neil Armstrong in LEM, July 20, 1969. (NASA/Newsmakers)

Neil Armstrong in LEM, July 20, 1969. (NASA/Newsmakers)

Flags have been at half-mast with the passing of astronaut Neil Armstrong this week, which brought back fond memories of the summer of 1969. Looking back, I recall the enormity of the achievement as it marked the victorious end of Kennedy’s space challenge in which he vowed to “put a man on the moon by the end of the decade”. The awesomeness of the feat has faded considerably over the decades since.

Living in Durham, NC at the time, I had a group of my friends over watching the lunar landing event unfold on our family’s little black and white GE portable TV in my bedroom. Mom was about ready to pop as she was pregnant with my sister Kim, who would make her entrance into this world 3 months later. My friends Bobby and Susan Booth were discussing the pros and cons of having a little sister versus a little brother joining in the circle – ultra-sound was not a common procedure in those days.

Not too long ago, I read some trivial factoids about the Apollo 11 mission that were interesting. Such as the fact that “Buzz” Aldren was to take the first step on the moon as he was the mission commander but ceded the honor to Armstrong out of apprehension to making an historic statement to the entire planet of earth. The now famous quote made by Armstrong “… one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” was actually a faux pas in that he meant to say “one small step for A man …”. I really never noticed over the years but just accepted the profound, historic phrase, thinking no more of it. Finally, it is interesting to note that the moon walk nearly became complete disaster when Aldren was stepping out of the lunar module by allowing its door to close. The LEM (lunar module) had no outside door knob (design flaw?).

Nevertheless, President John F. Kennedy surely would have been proud of the prophecy he declared in the early 1960’s.

Steve D.

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