Today is the fortieth anniversary of an event that helped change my life: the landing and first steps on the surface of the moon. We watched it on a black and white television that was pulled into the dining room because it was more important than my mother’s insistence that we come to the table to eat: no one wanted to miss seeing it.
Walter Cronkite, who died this week at 92, was the voice of that event – he and Wally Schirra, a former astronaut, sat at a relatively unadorned desk with scant special effects and plastic models of rockets and conveyed their wonder at this amazing feat. It is the task left by the wayside, the unfinished story, the stepping stone that has not led as far as it should have. Over the weekend Endeavor docked with the International Space Station, so we haven’t completely abandoned the dream. But like Buzz Aldrin, I think we should go to Mars.
Meanwhile, one in fifteen Americans believe that it was faked. These people are pinheads. In 1969, it was easier just to go to the moon than to fake it convincingly. Forty years of special effects and tech improvements have reversed that, of course. But stupidity is readily available these days, even more so than it was in 1969, it seems.
I remember the first moon walk. I haven’t forgotten why we did it, and I want to see us return to the unfinished task.