Monday, July 20, 2009

Remembering “One Giant Leap for Mankind”

Today is the 40th anniversary of man’s first landing and taking steps on the Moon. Maybe because I have seen it replayed on television so many times the event seems like it only happened yesterday. But it truly does seem like just yesterday that I was a 14 year old kid, sitting glued to a black and white television with my parents and my sisters and brother watching the event. I can close my eyes and see us all in the living room, and remember the feelings of excitement that I had when Neil Armstrong took his first “small” step. The last time the family had spent so much time together glued to a television event was when President Kennedy had been assassinated. The moon landing was a completely different event from the Kennedy coverage, as the moon landing was not a time to mourn, but a time to celebrate the achievements of the American people, especially those who were involved in the program.

There are some people out there who say the moon landing was faked. Personally, I don’t understand how anyone could not believe it was real. When I search for information on the moon landing hoax, I can also find many web sites that disprove and discredit all the conspiracy claims. Yet, some still refuse to believe in the facts. I would like to ask the consipiracy believers that if landing on the moon was so easy to fake, why didn’t the Russians or anybody else do it first?

Landing on the moon fell out of favor and the program was later discontinued, likely due to the high cost and the low rate of return on the investment, and frankly, lack of interest. I guess once you’ve been to the moon and take your share of moon rocks and moon dust, there really isn’t anything compelling to bring a person back. I am sure that someday, if/when unmanned missions can show that the moon itself has value to those of us on earth, people will find a reason to go back. There are talks of manned missions to Mars, and despite the fact that I am all for space exploration, I think until we are able to reliably land something on Mars more than one or two times (there have been many failures to date), then we should continue to send unmanned probes to do reconnaissance.

Some people say the whole moon landing was a waste as we got nothing from it. Far from it, I say. It likely helped in the rapid leaps we made in technology over the years. But more than that, it made people feel that almost anything is possible, and shows that human beings can accomplish just about anything to which they put their minds.

When I look at all the leaps mankind has made in these last 40 years, it may not have been possible without Neil Armstrong’s one small step. And while I watched coverage of the even on various shows over the weekend, and also today on I can still feel the excitement as if it was 40 years ago. It still makes me feel young.

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