"" Writer's Wanderings: To The Moon And Back

Friday, July 19, 2019

To The Moon And Back

This week there has been a lot of remembering back to the first moon landing. I grew up in the generation that watched the first American, Alan Shepard, fly into space. We held our breath wondering if he would burn up on re-entry. John Glenn orbited the earth and again we held our breath as he re-entered and was brought aboard the destroyer that lifted the capsule out of the water.

Gus Grissom lost his capsule when the hatch prematurely blew open upon his splashdown. The capsule sank but Grissom was picked up from a life raft to the relief to all who were watching the television live reports. (Grissom would later die in a flash fire that claimed three of the Apollo astronauts.) That was all part of the Mercury program. Then came Gemini.

Gemini was the program that prepared NASA and the astronauts for the next program, Apollo, that would lead to the first moon landing. The moon landing took place less than a year after we were married. We had graduated from Ohio State University and moved to Laurel, MD, where we lived in a two bedroom apartment on the first floor of a three story building. Above us was a couple with whom we became good friends.

I don't recall watching the take off of the Apollo mission but I do remember making an evening of watching the landing. We joined our friends in their apartment (they had a youngster to put to bed early). We enjoyed snacks and watched as the moment neared that Neil Armstrong would make that fateful first step onto the moon's surface.

We had already watched the capsule landing and cheered as the legs found solid ground. No one knew for sure if it would land on solid ground or sink into moon dust. As the hatch on the capsule opened and the cameras attached to someplace below the hatch began to broadcast, we sat on the edge of our seats and watched in awe as a foot appeared and then legs as Armstrong made his way down the ladder.

He paused and then with a small jump, landed onto the surface of the moon. It was one of the most amazing things we'd ever seen. Thank goodness the technology was there for us to be able to share in that great moment. It is one moment in history that will forever remain with me. And, no, I never once believed that it was all faked.

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