Apollo 11, the day after the launch 40 years ago.

In the world of the 12 year old, back in 1969, the priorities were very clear during the summer. First, immediately after waking, get dressed and go outside and play. Second, do as much of that as you can before summer vacation ends and school begins again. Thus, Apollo 11 should have been farther down on the list on the day following the launch.

You could not, however, escape the event as it crept into every aspect of life- even into the play priority of the 12 year old. When we rode our bikes the distance between the traffic island (we called it the "Big D") at one end of our block and the other island at the far end of the block that distance was the space between the earth and the moon. Our bikes were all Apollo 11 as we made the trip between the two Ds over and over always, stopping to take that step on the distant one. Likewise when we went swimming our pool was space and we floated as if in zero G. Just one day after the launch and we were already inspired.

Newspapers of the day were filled with launch images. Newsprint photos of the Saturn V that could never do justice to the actual launch were accompanied by pen and ink drawings of the three astronauts, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins- new names to us kids that would be forever remembered. One of the stories covered a flap by Vice President Agnew who, while speaking to the launch team at KSC, stated that he thought we should go to Mars by the year 2000. Nixon, who an Apollo hater at his roots even though he publicly covered it quite well, went nuts over that remark. Immediately the Whitehouse released a retraction of the remark saying that domestic issues had a higher priority than did Mars. I often wonder what things would be like if Agnew had not been a crook and if he had been able to take power when Nixon resigned. Would Mars have been closer?

That evening every newscast on the TV showed every tid-bit of Apollo 11 that NASA saw fit to release. I went to bed that night with a CSM and LEM combination streaking toward the moon more on my mind than the next day's playing schedule.

No comments:

Post a Comment