Monday, July 20, 2009

One Small Step

It is hard to believe that it has been 40 years since the astronauts of Apollo 11 first stepped on the moon. At the time, I was 9 years old and living in Detroit. We had experienced --- a little too closely --- the Detroit Riots in 1967, and memories of the assassinations and conventions of '68 were still fresh. Neighbors and siblings of some friends were over in Vietnam. The space program brought something positive to the front...truly the Wonder Years.

I have some clear memories of that night. I recall watching the events unfold on tv--our black and white console--even though it was very late at night, at least for a 9 year old. For some reason, I have always pictured a full moon in my mind, but a visit to a perpetual calendar site today shows that it was a waxing moon, two days shy of being half-way to full. At some point, my dad and I (maybe it was my mom--that's a little sketchy) were out looking at the distant orb, and I was adamant that I could see the flag that had been planted using our telescope. (We used to do quite a bit of star-gazing with our telescope. Do kids today still do that?)

My sister ended up with a special bit of memorabilia from that night. My grandmother had woven each of us a blanket. My brother's had an eagle on it. Mine had an oriental-based bird and flower on it. My sister's was just a patchwork, with a few special squares. One of these was the square that my Granny was working on 40 years ago tonight. It has a silhouette of a moon and the date, July 20, 1969. A keepsake for sure, and ironic for many reasons that I won't divulge. Me, well I have a series of pictures that were in some Scholastic publication--I think they are in my cedar chest. Maybe I should dig them out.

It saddens me to think that there is a small part of society who do not believe that the lunar expeditions occurred. I have read several articles over the past few days debunking these conspiracy theories, and the photos of the lunar probe show physical proof for the believers. If nothing, this event served to bring together a fractured nation, at least for one evening. What will be the next giant leap for humankind?

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