Could it be? 40 years since Apollo 11?

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 17, 2009

Their names were household words for years — Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. — so it is now fitting that NASA reminds us of them as part of the 40th anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon.

Apollo 11, the Sea of Tranquility and a world glued to the edge of its collective seat as we waited to see what would happen.

As part of an aggressive space program kick — as in the seat of the pants — started by President John F. Kennedy, Americans were on their way to the moon.

The moon … can you believe it!?!

Apollo 11 was launched from Cape Canaveral on July 16, 1969 and on Sunday, July 20, Collins orbited above while Armstrong and Aldrin went down to the surface.

According to the Apollo 11 lunar surface journal, it was at 109:24:48 — almost two hours — into the descent that Armstrong took that final step and that little cloud of moon dust was stirred … “That’s one small step for (a) man; one giant leap for mankind.”

We’ve heard it thousands of times since then and as we do more and more, perhaps its meaning is lost on some, but as we observe that flight this weekend and on Monday, let us never forget that it was — and is — one more example of the greatness of our nation and her people … an example of what can be done when we work together.

Where were you on Sunday, July 20, 1969?