Leading up to the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, I’ve watched several programs on PBS on this historic moment. Like many Americans, I also had a chance to watch it on the news as a young girl.
I was 4 at the time, and with my mother and my babysitter, Allie Young, was glued to our tiny black-and-white television in Chicago, where we lived at the time, as it broadcast those first steps on the moon.
Allie was African American and had migrated to Chicago from the South. She was in her 70s then, and somehow didn’t believe what she was seeing. She just didn’t think it could be real. My mother was amazed.
For me at age 4, everything was new – foods, books, animals, places. Every day held a new adventure, and so the idea that astronauts were on the moon just seemed like another new concept to comprehend.
So 50 years later, contemplating how that voyage may have changed our collective perspective as a nation has been interesting. For one, it was the first time anyone had viewed our planet from space and considered it not as the center of a universe but just a tiny part of a larger galaxy.
It also furthered our possibilities and our understanding of our own planet. From dust and rocks collected from the moon, we could begin to understand the age of the planet of and the cosmic events that had occurred.
It brought people together during a tumultuous time of race riots, Vietnam war protests, and other upheaval. Simply put, it represented much more than just space travel; it was indeed, in Neil Armstrong’s words, “one giant leap for mankind.”
It is my first memory of a world event, one I will never forget during a time in my life when I felt anything was possible. The moon landing seemed to affirm that feeling. For sure, it led to greater exploration and innovation in the next 50 years.