Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On this date 41 years ago....

Anyone who knows me knows about my fascination with the Apollo Program.

"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

Today is the 41st anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon and Neil Armstrong taking the most famous first steps in the history of mankind. Are Neil Armstrong's first words from the surface of the moon the most famous quotes in history? Hard to argue against it right? What else would rank up there? "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind" simply can not be topped. Right?

One of my biggest regrets in life will always be that I was in Florida (in Orlando to be exact) in the week leading up to the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing and was not able to attend any of the festivities at Cape Canevral. Even the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour that I went to see ended up being called off 5 minutes before launch time. That wasn't even the worst of it, the 40 minute drive back to Orlando took us 4 hours because of the traffic backup exiting from the vicinity of Cape Canevral. I did mange to catch the launch of the Shuttle from the airport. A huge crowd gathered at the airport gate as we all looked out the window and saw the orange glow shooting towards the sky. It was an amazing site watching all the planes grounded on the runway as they waited for the shuttle to clear their airspace.

What more is there to say about Apollo 11 that hasn't already been said? I'll direct you to my post from last year on this same subject. We've all seen the clips of Neil Armstrong's first step but one thing I do like to share with people every year is the speech that was prepared for Richard Nixon by speech writer William Safire. It was a speech prepared just in case there was an  accident while they were on the moon and the astronauts could not be brought back to earth. It really is a fascinating read.
Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.
These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.
These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.
They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.
In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.
In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.
Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.
For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.
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