Mixsonian Morrs and Barbara Larry

Man on the Moon

Armstron on the Moon

Life MagazineOn Sunday night, July 20th, 1969, I watched on TV land on the moon.  I had been following the Apollo 11 mission on TV and newspaper every day since the rocket lifted off the previous Wednesday.  The command module was named “Columbia” and the lunar landing module named “Eagle”.  That night my family and I gathered around the TV and tuned to CBS with Walter Cronkite as the host with another astronaut, Wally Schirra, who would later fly on the ill fated Apollo 13 mission.  They made a great team with Walter added the human aspect, while Wally provided technical details.  The audio was live, well except for the eight minute delay it took for radio signals reach from the moon to Houston command center on earth.   Columbia, docked with Eagle and both were in orbit around the moon, “Beep, Columbia, this is Houston, you are go for Eagle separation.”  Every time Houston or Columbia would speak there would be a beep.  Wally described what was happening, Eagle had separated from Columbia, while Michael Collins stayed in Columbia orbiting the moon,  Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin aboard the Eagle descending towards the lunar surface.  Why they couldn’t just call it the moon I don’t know but they always said “lunar”.   I held my breath, along with all the staff at the Houston Flight Center, for the eight minutes it took for the radio signals to get back to earth, then Buzz Aldrin said, "Beep, Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."  NASA had named the place they landed Tranquility Base after the area on the moon being called the Sea of Tranquility.  It was getting late, and I had to go to bed disappointed, I wouldn’t get to see Armstrong take the first step.

I got up early the next day finding Dad already up sitting at the kitchen table drinking his coffee and reading the paper.  I was often the next one up and would sit across from Dad while he read the paper and I would read the comics, which were usually in the sports section.  If I timed it right Dad would be  reading the front page first giving me time to read the comics in the sports page, but if I got there to late or if there wasn’t much in the front section, than Dad would be reading the sports page and I would have to wait to read the comics until he was done, which would be quite a while because Dad really liked sports and read the sports section in great detail.   Anyway, I got up that morning and Dad was still reading the front section with it opened.  Sitting across from I lean forward across the table to see what the front page said, in big letters, Man Lands On The Moon, but didn’t say anything about walking on the moon because Armstrong’s first step took place at 2:56 in the morning, to late to make it into the paper.

It wasn’t until the evening CBS news with Walter Cronkite that I finally got to see the video of Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon and saying his famous words, "One small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”   The news showed additional video of Armstrong and Aldrin bunny hopping around on the moon surface, “low gravity just like in the science fiction books I read” I thought.   The Eagle blasted off from the surface, reconnected to Colombia in orbit, returned to earth and splashed down in the pacific ocean.  On August 13, the three astronauts rode in ticker-tape parades in their honor in New York and Chicago, with an estimated six million attendees.

There has been some controversy about Armstrong’s actual words he spoke, if he had said “a man” or just “man”.  Armstrong intended to say "That's one small step for a man", but the word "a" is not audible in the transmission, and thus was not initially reported by most observers of the live broadcast. When later asked about his quote, Armstrong said he believed he said, "for a man", and subsequent printed versions of the quote included the [a] in square brackets.  Regardless if he said the “a” or not, it was a giant step for Man.  

Updated: 10-31-2022

12th Grade