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HISTORICAL QUOTE OF THE WEEK - "Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other." ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN," - THE SUNDAY COMMENTARY

May 25, 1961 President John F. Kennedy issued a challenge to America to safely land a man on the moon and return him home again before the decade was out. In the most famous line from that speech Kennedy said, "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

What made this challenge so striking was the fact that it was not only ambitious but The United States had a struggling space program that had been plagued by problems in a race to beat the Soviet Union in space. It had only been a few years since the Soviets brought fear to the entire western world with the launch of the first satellite called Sputnik. The Mercury Program had only found success in getting an American into space once a few days earlier on May 5, 1961 with Alan Shepard's fifteen minute sub orbital flight riding on a ballistic missile.

So going to the moon was not only ambitious but if achieved would become the singular greatest technological accomplishment man every embarked upon. Yet eight years later on July 20, 1969, not only was this ambitious challenge accomplished but three Americans would hold the entire world captivated from July 16 when Apollo 11 launched until its return home on July 29. On July 20, 1969 Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin, "Buzz," Aldrin and Michale Collins made the first historic landing on the moon a reality. Michael Collins while not actually stepping foot on the moon was the Command Service Module pilot whose responsibility was to fly the mission from the Earth to the Moon and safely home again aboard the "Columbia". At 4:17 PM Eastern Time with only 17 seconds of fuel left before the engines on the Lunar Module called, "Eagle," would cut off Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed at the site that would become known as Tranquility Base.

Six hours later at 10:17 PM Eastern Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon. As he descended the ladder of the Lunar Module he said these words, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." This was not exactly what Armstrong intended to say as in his anxiousness to leave an indelible statement for history he left out "a." He had intended to say, "One small step for, "a," man." But the phrase has still become one of the most famous in history.

The world stood still as Armstrong descended the ladder of the, "Eagle," and stepped upon the barren surface of the moon. In fact in The United States during those moments of the first man stepping on the moon, there was not one recorded crime that took place in the entire country as everyone was glued to television sets across the Nation watching this historic moment.

Forty years have passed since that first moon landing. Forty years since those memorable words were spoken by Neil Armstrong. Forty years since man made his first foot prints on the soil of another world. Yet the accomplishment that made that historic trip possible and the bravery of the men who made the trip still stands as the singular most remarkable technological achievement in history.

Accomplished by American know how and American ability but achieved for the betterment and advancement of all mankind. Though forty years have passed I still remember the excitement as I watched the the great Saturn V rocket lift off from Cape Canaveral on July 16, 1969. I still remember the thrill in watching as the, "Eagle," kicked up the dust from the lunar surface as it approached the landing sight on the Sea Of Tranquility.

I remember the awe as I held my breath when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the platform of the ,"Eagle," and began descending the ladder. I remember the anxiousness as he leaped from the ladder finally stepping foot on the surface of the moon. I remember as if it were yesterday the amazement I felt as I watched every moment of the mission. Watched as Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon in an almost low gravity dance as their movements responded to the moons atmosphere.

I grew up captivated by the Space Program. I counted as my childhood heroes men like Alan Shepard, John Glenn , Scott Carpenter, and all of the Mercury astronauts, the pioneers of space. I followed every mission from Mercury though Gemini and onto Apollo. Enthralled by the site of watching Americans in space and amazed as they walked on the moon. I built plastic models of Glenn's , "Friendship 7," and the great Saturn V rocket complete with a miniature Lunar Module housed on the vehicle as it was on the monster that took men to the moon.

Even today, as I watch the launch of the Space Shuttle, I watch with a child like trill as I did in those earlier days. Man venturing into space to achieve what once was thought to be impossible. But nothing will compare to those sixteen days in 1969 when the world watched as three Americans did what no one had done before. Nothing in the modern space age can create such awe and wonder as the thrill of knowing that when you looked up and saw that celestial body which orbits our Earth realizing that at that same moment three brave Americans were there and because of their accomplishment your imagination was with them and reaching the stars !

Ken Taylor

13 Comments:

Blogger RaDena said...

"there was not one recorded crime that took place in the entire country as everyone was glued to television sets across the Nation watching this historic moment. I didn't know that, Ken. That's amazing! Forty years may have passed since then (doesn't seem that long) but I remember it like it was yesterday and just like when Kennedy was shot, I know exactly where I was and what I was doing. (Watching tv of course! LOL!)

My husband and I both watch the Space Shuttle too, Ken, although I always watch with a bit of dread ever since I watched the Challenger blow up in real life. I was only a few miles away and watched in awe as it took to the sky. I could hear the rumble and see everything clearly. Then, a mere 72 seconds after it took flight the unthinkable happened. Ever since that day I can't watch it without a slightly sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I watch anyway. Astronaughts are our pioneers... truly the only real ones we have left.

Thank you for a wonderful tribute to them!

3:52 PM, July 19, 2009  
Blogger The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

I agree RaDena the last real pioneers are those paving the way to space. As James T Kirk says in the intro to Star Trek, "Space the final frontier..."

3:59 PM, July 19, 2009  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

"there was not one recorded crime that took place in the entire country as everyone was glued to television sets across the Nation watching this historic moment. I didn't know that, Ken.


Neither did I. Wonder what kind of event it would take for not one crime on the planet to take place for the historic moment....

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