Growing up as a kid in northern New Jersey in the 1940’s and 50’s was quite a special time. There are so many things that I remember from back then and one of them was Saturday afternoons. That was when a bunch of us kids would head to the local movie theater and for 10 cents (adults had to pay 25 cents!) we got to see the newsreel, a cartoon, double feature and whatever serial was running. One of them was “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”. It was fun, it was mesmerizing to a 10-11 year old, it was fantasy and it was something that was make believe…….or so we thought at the time. Parents enjoyed the “fantasy” as well saying it was just movies, not real, nothing like this could ever happen.
Now we move ahead some twenty or twenty five years later and those fantasies became real on July 20, 1969 when the U.S. sent the Apollo 11 into space with the sole intention of landing on the moon, a feat some said could never be done. But at 10:56 p.m. EST the Eagle had landing on the surface of the moon and the impossible had been done. Then as Commander Neil Armstrong’s camera sent back these unbelievable images, he stepped down from the craft walked on the moon’s surface and simply said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
A few minutes later Buzz Aldrin joined Armstrong on the moon’s surface and all he could say was, “Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, a magnificent desolation.” They walked about collecting lunar dirt and rocks, planting an American flag and giving not only the U.S., but the entire world a small glimpse of what was yet to come in our world. There would be more and more space flights, explorations, discoveries and changes to our world. The simple fact is that seemingly impossible venture led to so many changes like new technologies, new inventions, new ways of communication and so much more that we have today.
It was an amazing feat for the time and even with all of the proof of being on the moon, there were people ( my father was one) who believed it was all phony. They truly believed that this was all done on a Hollywood sound stage because what Armstrong and Aldrin did was just impossible and total fantasy. They reasoned that there was just no way two human beings could ever do something of that magnitude. However, despite those who felt that way 90% of the world knew that this mission would only be the start of the space race that has gone on ever since with constant new discoveries taking place with all the various missions that have been carried out since that special day of July 20, 1969.
That is a night that I will remember as we watched this incredible piece of history unfold on our TV set. My wife and I sat there in total amazement seeing these images from a place that suddenly didn’t seem millions of miles away. Watching the expressions of the newscasters and the expressions of those at NASA are images that I will never forget.
So tonight, while you are outside, take a look upward at the moon. Then just nod your head and smile in quiet thanks to Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and the hundreds of faceless heroes at NASA who made fantasy become reality. I would imagine somewhere out there in this great universe Buck Rogers has a big thumps up.Today, and every July 20th, is a very special day for the entire world to remember.
Art Koch, National Features & DVD Editor, NightMoves Magazine and AAN