I thought that was at once both peculiar and amazing. I mean, a 48th anniversary isn't exactly a milestone commemoration, like, say, a 50th would be. Wait two more years and see what I mean.
On the other hand, it was the first moon landing. Apollo 11. Neil Armstrong. Tranquility Base. The Eagle has landed.
Why not celebrate?
I was 18 years old at the time. This is what I think I remember: It was late at night, approaching 11 p.m. Pennsylvania time. I'd been curious about space travel ever since Sputnik scared the beejeezus out of us, so I wasn't going to miss this moment. It was going to be on TV. I'd invested too much time following the Mercury, Gemini and now the Apollo programs. I'd watched all those Wonderful World of Disney's concerning the future.
Telstar, Teflon, Tang and AstroTurf were byproducts of space research. We were so moving forward as a species. Star Trek was real.
We were gathered around the TV, a grainy black-and-white picture that was positively amazing. We were watching live pictures from the moon. Hey, I was still getting used to watching live baseball broadcasts from San Francisco. Are you kidding me?
When Armstrong purposefully came down Eagle's steps I was praying that he wouldn't accidentally rip his space suit on something sharp and go spinning crazily off into space like a burst balloon. That was an actual concern of mine, as if the project scientists had never considered this possibility. OSHA was still two years away, for crying out loud. Anything could have happened.
But Armstrong successfully took his giant leap for mankind (I held my breath) and I was thrilled. I think I stayed up for another hour or so before going to bed, content with American exceptionalism.
Now, 48 years later, I can't believe this all happened 48 years ago. Two months later the Beatles were singing "Here Comes the Sun." Go figure.
The moon is about to come into play again. We're all getting primed for a potentially spectacular solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 90 percent of it to be total right here in North Carolina (if it doesn't rain).
The moon. Again. I feel like I'm being followed: