50 Years Ago:
Remembering the Apollo 11 Moon Landing on July 20, 1969
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing, we asked those members old enough to remember what they were doing and thinking on that historic day. Here are their reflections (in alphabetical order by last name):
Four months after returning home from Vietnam, my whole family gathered around the TV to watch the first moon landing. We were all riveted to the TV during the whole time. After I went to bed, I had trouble sleeping because I was still so excited.
On July 20, 1969, we were vacationing in Vermont at a cottage without TV. Our long-time friends and neighbors invited our whole family into their home to watch the Moon walk on their TV. It was much later than we usually visited as the Moon walk occurred at about 11 PM, but a special exception was made for this exciting, historic event. I was very impressed both by the accomplishment and the blurry TV images.
This was the summer after I graduated from high school. I remember riding in the car with my family, listening to the radio during the lunar lander’s nail-biting descent to the lunar surface. It was such a relief when they finally touched down. Later that evening I was with a group of my friends at one of their homes to watch the astronauts’ first steps on the Moon. We went there because they had air conditioning and a large TV (which was probably about a 24-inch color TV).
I had just returned from my all expenses paid government sponsored trip to southeast Asia. I remember it was on late we had a black and white TV and the captions as in “Live from the moon” could hardly be read. I watched that first step live from the moon. Just think, from day to day contact with a society whose rural population was barely out of the Stone Age and a few days later back in the world watching men walk on the moon, realizing that those with whom I had been until very recently were unaware of the event.
I was 16 years old when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface…I was planted in front of our TV, as was most of the planet. As a member of the generation that grew up with the Vietnam War, the assasinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK, racial violence, I feel that Apollo 11 showed us what we could be, if we chose. How sad that we did not make that choice.
In 1969 I was teaching in Arkansas. During the summer I came up north to visit family in PA and then friends at Yale in New Haven. On July 20, I was at a Grad student housing on Prospect St (just down the hill from Leitner) where a group of 15 or so watched on a smallish TV. I clearly remember the moment when Armstrong stepped down. Amazing and moving.
The next morning I bought a copy of the New York Times which 50 years later, I still have.
I was five years old. Not really old enough to remember much. My parents had a TV so we watched it throughout. I had a GI Joe Space Capsule Set. It came with a 45 Record. I played the record over and over again. I threw the capsule in my pool for splash down.
Don Straka still has his copy of New York Times from that historic day.