Happy Armstrong Day!

It’s sad to admit, but I had to be reminded by Google’s banner, and by a quick look at the calendar, that today is Armstrong Day, the anniversary of the first Moon landing.

Those of us who remember watching the events of that July evening can go back in memory and touch it any time. We remember where we were, and who was in the room, and probably even the TV set itself, and those little black and white pictures, so crummy by modern video standards, that actually came from another world.

We thought it was only the beginning, the first step on the great journey to the planets and beyond, and to the future we thought was inevitable, with its flying cars and power to cheap to meter and a cure for cancer and, yes, cities on the Moon.

What it was, of course, was a high water mark, the peak of the postwar Great Good Years. Whatever genuine promise the events of July 29th, 1969 might have had (and that is debatable), it was lost in the static of history, or overwhelmed by the weight of the world’s real problems, or both. We still may achieve some of those dreams, but my hope of seeing it happen in my lifetime is rather less confident than it was the summer I turned eight, and sat up in the crickety darkness, watching television.

I’m glad we didn’t know then what we know now, and I’m glad I’m old enough to remember.

So many of you are out there are too young to remember the Moon Landing, and I don’t know how much the idea means to you. It’s like Pearl Harbor was to us, or the Kennedy assassination. It’s what 9/11 will be to those who’ve been born recently.  Just the past, which is all compacted into a solid mass: Ancient Rome, the Renaissance, the Constitution, the Civil War, everything that happened before our living memory, all pressed into a single block.  But trust me,  it’s nice to have a milestone to remember that was, at least at the time, a happy one. Let’s hope there are more to come.

Happy Armstrong Day, everyone.


Published in: on July 30, 2008 at 12:09 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. Sadly, I was born two and a half years too late for the first one. I turned one while Apollo XVII, the last, was on the moon.
    The big “where were you” moments for me are sad ones. The first was the loss of Challenger… 8th grade, lunchtime, still in the stage when I wanted to be an astronaut (though I was already too tall, too nearsighted, and too much the dreamer), walking past the school library when the librarian told me to come in the office… it was on TV. I remember running out to tell all my friends, to find some comfort, and none of them believed me.
    For me, the Space Shuttle was the beginning of it all… next would be space tourists, and a permanent space station from which new missions could be launched to the moon and Mars, and, of course, orbiting hotels. I promised myself I would spend my birthday in 2001 in orbit, if possible.
    Next was 9/11. I was in Japan. It was late at night, and I awakened by a phone call from a woman I had met a couple of weeks earlier who would eventually become my wife. Turning on the TV, just after the second plane had hit, all the smoke… horrible.
    I’m hoping the next “where were you” will be a happy one!

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