“One Small Step for Man. One Giant Leap for Mankind.”

moonThose famous words were said by Neil Armstrong on July 19, 1969, almost 50 years ago, when he stepped onto the moon.

I was reminded of this event when I recently saw the movie, Apollo 11. It did not star Tom Hanks or Matt Damon. There were no high tech, computer generated images of what a landing on the moon or Mars would be like. This is a documentary with actual footage. The movie “merely” stars 3 men, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the 3 astronauts who manned Apollo 11. And it also co-stars the thousands of people from NASA in a supporting role.  Hearing Walter Cronkite’s voice on the broadcast reminded me of the importance of TV journalists in that era. When Cronkite spoke, the world listened. He was a true journalist from an era that is long gone.

The film was breathtaking, when you realize the footage was real, not CGI. The movie which premiered recently is a powerful documentary about Apollo 11. I knew the ending (they land on the moon and return safely) but it was still exciting. I had never seen a 100% “Rotten Tomatoes” rating, and now I understand why. Ain’t nothing like the real thing baby…

By definition, one would need to be a Boomer or older to remember the 1969 event and its importance. As background, the Soviet Union was first in space, first with the satellite Sputnik 1 in October 1957, and then with the first manned space travel by cosmonaut Uri Gagarin in April 1961. This was followed shortly thereafter by astronaut Alan Shepard in May 1961, and then John Glenn, the first man to orbit the Earth, in February 1962.

The Cold War with the Soviet Union was pervasive in that era (and one could argue it remains today with Russia despite our administration’s perverse fixation on building relations with a country whose values oppose ours).

President Kennedy challenged the nation to reach the moon by the end of the 60s…and we did.

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

For anyone 60+ you’ll want to see Apollo 11 to relive your feelings of the summer of 1969. And for anyone who is interested in space travel, the real thing, it’s a must see. I am glad I did.

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