Monday, July 20, 2009

40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Landing

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon after landing their lunar module. As he set foot on the lunar surface, Armstrong spoke his famous line, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Aldrin, who followed, described the scene as “magnificent desolation.” July 20, 2009 will be the 40th anniversary of the moon landing.Our family was lucky enough to live in El Lago, Texas (3 miles from NASA ... now called the Johnson Space Center) during the 'hey day' of the U.S. space exploration. While having astronauts for friends and neighbors was quite common place in the 70s, on this date forty years ago we were a young family living in La Porte, Texas.

Our newest addition to the family (Bz) was only a week old when we watched these pictures from space on our tiny black and white television. Who could have fathomed what the future held??? Certainly not us at that time.

In 1972 we moved to El Lago ... almost everyone was involved with the space program. Both children attended Edward White Elementary School, named after one of three astronauts that died on January 27, 1967, in a flash fire during a launch pad test of the Apollo/Saturn space vehicle. Lt. Col. Virgil I. Grissom and Roger B. Chaffee also died in the tragic fire.

Astronaut Charlie Duke is the youngest of only twelve men who have walked on the moon, the only humans to have done so.
Charlie was our son's tee-ball coach for two years and a member of my church in La Porte. He would talk to groups about his experience on the moon ... the children always wanted to know how you go to the bathroom in space.

Duke was backup Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 13, however shortly before the mission he caught German measles from a friend's child and inadvertently exposed the prime crew to the disease. As Ken Mattingly had no natural immunity to the disease, Mattingly was then replaced as command module pilot by Jack Swigert. Mattingly would be reassigned as command module pilot of Duke's flight, Apollo 16.

I will always remember what Charlie told us about standing on the moon. He said there was total 'blackness' around him,except for a "shiny Christmas ornament" (Earth) He put his hand up (blocking out the earth) and said he felt fear for the first time and so insignificant at that moment. He realized everyone and everything he loved was back there on that 'Christmas ornament'.
But 40 years ago, we didn't think of these things, although we were awed by a photo of a man actually walking on the moon ... there were babies to feed and stories to read ... forty years ago!


Robynn's Ravings said...

That is the most gripping recount from Charlie's perspective I have ever heard. Very profound, Sandy, and thank you for sharing that. It was a surreal day for me. My sister died that day - 40 years ago. The will always be inextricably linked.

Jadehollow said...

Hi Sandy.. Thanks for the sweet comment on my tablescape.. I've been horrrrrrrible about returning comments lately.. life has just been so hectic here at the Jadehollow Summerfest Zoo. School starts in a week .. wooohooo.. and I'll have back my Debbie time lol. I'm not sure if I told you or not.. But my brother makes alot of those fancy headstones like the ones you posted. He lives in the Granite Capitol of the World.. Elberton Ga. Which is where 80% of memorial markers and headstones come from. He's been doing it all since he was a teen.. it still amazes me at the things he creates. I'll have to gather up some of his work and share one day. I hope things are great with you and the Duck and that all are well..Take care!