On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong took “...one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Around the country that July night, hearts pounded a few extra beats, breaths were collectively held and for a moment the problems of the nation disappeared. It was also my fifth birthday.
“Hey, big bro. Happy Moon Landing Day!”
This was the birthday message I received from my little brother yesterday, July 20th. The way my siblings and I look at it, being born in 1964 means I had four regular Happy Birthdays, followed by 44 Happy Moon Landing Days. I don’t recall much from that night except a few grainy images on grandpa’s black and white TV (when I could fight for viewing space around the set), but those events of Apollo 11 made a tremendous impact on my life.
Because it happened on my birthday, I received a hodge-podge of Apollo 11 related material over the ensuing years. Poster, lunch box, folders, games, books, etc. Needless to say, I became fascinated with the space program. And on that July 20, 1969, I believe the science switch was clicked on inside my head, which started me on a path to be a scientist.
The moon landing also taught me to dream and think beyond current limitations. The fill dirt dumped on the vacant lot hillside was now the powdered surface of the moon. My feet landing in that dirt from a elevated jump at the top of the hill became like Neil Armstrong jumping off the ladder and into history. Our sofa forts in the basement transformed from old west outposts to lunar modules and, let me tell you, the view was beautiful from those spaceships.
Happy Moon Landing Day!