Did you believe it when you heard the news that man—two men, actually—had walked on the moon?
On Sunday, July 20, 1969, 45 years ago Sunday, we watched the flickering TV images of the moon landing. CBS was providing live audio coverage, with simulated pictures of the historic moon landing. You remember, when Neil Armstrong stepped out of the lander and declared:
“That’s one small step for a* man, one giant leap for mankind.”
I was a reporter living in Evansville, Indiana, then. The moon landing was exciting news, the dawn of a new space frontier and the fulfillment of John F. Kennedy’s promise that we would put a “man” on the moon. It would quash the green cheese myth forever and redeem my lackluster submission to seventh-grade science.
Yet when I returned to my room at the YWCA, brimming with wonder and pride, the reaction of my fellow housemates, girls up from Kentucky to find work, was flat.
“It didn’t happen. That was all a simulation. They never put a man on the moon,” one girl said plainly as she made supper in the common kitchen. The others agreed.
The parking garage attendant across the street wasn’t impressed either, though he didn’t exactly doubt the miracle.
“I’d say if God wanted a man to go to the moon, he’d have put him there,” he drawled matter-of-factly.
The US went to the moon five more times and after 1972 stopped going. That was probably enough for a non-believer. But those were days full of promise for those of us who saw and believed, and felt that if it were really possible to land on the moon, anything was possible. “If we can put a man on the moon, we can____________.”
You fill in the blanks.
*Historical reports often drop the “a” but Armstrong said he said it, and many researchers of Ohio-ese support him.