“That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” July 20, 1969.
I teach a class at the University of Washington Tacoma titled “The History and Science of Space Exploration.” None of my students remember or were even born before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.
Remember for a moment what it might be like to be a 12- year-old girl who prays at night for peace, for nuclear weapons not to destroy her life, her future, her home. Remember also, how the communist nation that is poised to attack is also ready to land on the moon.
I try to put my students in that period of time that I experienced. We talk about fear. We talk about the importance of being first on the moon, the importance of democracy, and the fear of losing it all.
John F. Kennedy’s speech in 1962 made a bold statement that the U.S. would land a man on the moon within the decade. Armstrong’s achievement would bring hope and peace to the nation for many years to come.
It may be hard to comprehend the magnitude of the achievement of landing on the moon using slide rules, manual calculations and antiquated computers. It should never be hard to imagine the will of the American people to land on the moon for the ultimate goal of democracy. Thank you, Neil Armstrong, for carrying out this mission and making us believe in the power and will of Americans once again.