I know exactly where I was, who I was with , and what I was doing on this date at about this time 40 years ago today. I was watching a scientific miracle, the culminating activity of years of hard work, and the dreams of countless others come to fruition.
Man...two men in fact, walked on the moon...and I, for one, was spellbound! I was 17 years old and on the brink of my own adventure---senior year in high school, but I had planned for this event as if I were in the module on top of the rocket.
You see, not only was I child of the 60s, a product of the Cold War and post-Sputnik jitters, I lived around the space program. My summer neighbors were teachers of the astronauts and friends with people who knew the chimps who had been taught the rudimentary tasks to be performed in space. We got visit some retired chimps in their New Mexico compound. School field trips were routinely made to rocket launches in the desert outside my hometown. My family wandered around the deserts and mountains of the same general area encountering signs indicating Government Property-Keep Out Signs because all kinds of things were going on and being tested.
It was an exciting time. My mom and I decided we needed a color TV so we rented one for the special night. We could not imagine this special occasion occurring in our house in mere black and white. Of course, neither of us knew that the actual event itself would be broadcast IN black and white, and grainy at best! And we watched every minute...and held our breathe along with all the guys in Mission Control until we too heard: "Houston, the Eagle has landed!"
If you ever doubted the reasons for it beyond the sheer need of man to explore where he has never been then take a look at these lists of the benefits from the needs of the space program.
It goes WAY beyond Tang, Corningware, and velcro.
It was a team effort, a team success. If you want to see how a team works, watch the mission control room. Watch the teams that suit the astronauts up and lock them in the capsule. Everyone had a job to do and everyone had to rely on everyone to do his job. It was something!
Do I hope we go back? Do I hope we go to Mars? You bet....I just hope I'm around to see some of it. My daughter has selected Coringware for her newlywed home. Do I hope SOME day to get to tell some cute little munchkins all about when it was first made and how...you bet! Do I want to hear them laugh about renting the color TV? Absolutely! And will I hold my breath until the adventure ends...count on it!
P.S. My father finally stopped pacing that night and went down to Sears the next day and bought a little 20 in. COLOR TV on a rickty aluminum stand...it was to be our rocketship to the future. We had to be up with the times! Who knew a microwave oven was just around the corner!