For those old enough to remember, July 20, 1969 marked a tremendous achievement not just for America, but also for the entire world.
On July 16th the Apollo 11 rocket—with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on board—blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. On July 20th their capsule circled the Moon as Armstrong and Aldrin deployed to the lunar surface aboard a separate craft, while Collins remained in orbit aboard the “mother ship.” After spending over twenty hours on the Moon, the pair rendezvoused with Collins and began their flight back to earth. They splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24th.
Scores of books, films, and first-hand accounts have documented Apollo 11 and the five other manned lunar missions that followed. Ironically, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, doubters and conspiracy buffs have concocted wild tales that the entire project was staged by the government in a movie studio and never really happened! Go figure…
Where was I on July 20, 1969? I was a 17 year-old Plebe Midshipman, three weeks into summer training at the Naval Academy. While our company crowded around a tiny black-and-white TV set in the Academy’s bowling alley, we watched Neil Armstrong step onto the Moon’s surface and declare, “That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.”