Wednesday, July 20, 2011

This day in history - July 20, 1969: Apollo 11 lands on the moon

The first ever human-crewed landing on the moon, in the Sea of Tranquility, took place on this day. Almost seven hours later (on July 21st), Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon.

Along with Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, they made up the three-person crew of Apollo 11.

Even today, I can easily remember those names without having to think much about it, such is the importance of the occasion in my memory.

As my co-blogger Carl pointed out yesterday, the manned space program, at least for now, will effectively end when the current Shuttle mission is complete. I agree wholeheartedly that it is a tragedy that the program will not go on for many of the reasons he cites.

I remember well growing up with the space program and how as a young student I was motivated to be more interested in learning because of it. While my education eventually took me away from the sciences and in the direction of the humanities, I remember thinking as a young person that a good education might be useful if I wanted to do interesting things in life. I recall the exploits of the early NASA astronauts helping to form that perception.

Again, without having to think much about it, I can recite the names Shepard, Glenn, Slayton, Schirra, Carpenter, Borman, Lovell, Cernan, and especially White, Chaffee and Grissom, the crew of the ill-fated Apollo 1 mission, along with those from Apollo 11 and on and on.

It seems to have had an impact on me.

It might also be good to remember how important shared national goals can be in bringing a nation together, though the concept is hard to imagine in the current climate.

(Cross-posted to Lippmann's Ghost.)

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  • I was in my mid-20's all those years ago and it's hard to accept that no one younger than their mid-40's remembers it now.

    Harder to accept and harder to remember is a time when we took pride in our accomplishments as a nation, when a president could ask us to ask ourselves what we could do for our country and claim, without too much snickering from the public that we were pursuing a goal because it was hard.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 9:31 AM  

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