20 July 1969 – Man on the Moon – 50 years ago

Today is the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the Moon – 20 July 1969.

As a little kid I spent my summers in Montana and Wyoming, riding and running like a swift browned animal.  The summer gang that formed was all about capture the flag, barbed wire scratches, horse sweat-soaked cut offs, lemonade, rope swings at the creek, shooting things and blowing stuff up with firecrackers. But that summer I also built models of all the manned spacecraft and was welded to the TV and coverage of Apollo 11 on the 2 channels available.  Yep, 2. And the rabbit ears had to be right.

I have vivid memories of that first moonwalk.  I remember, in the middle of it, going outside and looking up at the moon in an un-light-polluted velvet-black sky. Sheer wonder. Breath catching perfection.

I’m sure you have your own memories, if you were old enough to be aware and enjoy and marvel at that amazing event.

That formative experience is indelibly burned into me.

How grateful I am to have grown up in those days. It’s a different world now.

Can we make America that way again, without some cataclysm to shock common sense back into us? I fear that we can’t, but I pray that we will. Maybe we can work to make it happen in the spheres of life entrusted to us.

Here’s a video which mentions the 1969 moon walk and what it’s like be a citizen of the greatest nation on Earth.

It’s a high school prom, it’s a Springsteen song, it’s a ride in a Chevrolet
It’s a man on the moon and fireflies in June and kids selling lemonade
It’s cities and farms, it’s open arms, one nation under God
It’s America

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Events, Look! Up in the sky! and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Jacob says:

    Apollo 11 in Real Time

    Apollo 11 Live TV (Cronkite) Coverage

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  2. Bob B. says:

    When I see Apollo 13 and the scene where everyone is watching Neil Armstrong walk on the Moon, I remember my family gathered around the TV, as well.
    My father had worked at Cape Canaveral when I was in 2nd grade – we lived on Patrick AFB, then (when the Army gave up possession of the Cape – few seem to know this fact- we moved to Redstone Arsenal where he worked at the Test Lab on spacecraft engines. So we had more than a passive interest in what was going on.
    Luckily, my dad was between Vietnam tours that July (I had just graduated from high school) and he would go again the next year (after his second tour, I went on my one and only).

  3. Gregg the Obscure says:

    i remember the day well.

    we went to “Aunt” Clara’s (really my mom’s second cousin who we didn’t see all that often). she hosted a pretty big gathering by virtue of having a both a large house and a color tv set.

    “Aunt” Sophie was there and as she and I always favored each other, i gravitated toward her. I remember her saying how amazed she was when, as a girl, she first read about that new invention the airplane and now even more amazing, she’s watching the trip to the moon as it happens. She specifically mentioned having been born in 1885. the reminiscences by the older folks were so moving. They – even my own parents – had grown up in conditions more akin the Old Testament than like contemporary suburbia. Getting water from a well, using animal power for farm work, and the like.

    The prospects of that rapid change continuing were thrilling. I said I would like to go to Mars when that became available and asked if that might be an option by 1985 – a date that seemed impossibly far in the future. the oldsters thought that was funny

    i got quite a few books about the moon landing and pestered my folks for a telescope. This book was my favorite. i wore out my copy.

  4. Andreas says:

    I’m listening/watching the ‘Apollo 11 in Real Time’ website right now; the LM has just landed. It is addictive and I am loathe to break away and head off for bed (it’s late here in Austria). The comms (especially between the engineers, controllers, Flight and the astronauts are fascinating and provide a great deal of insight as to what transpired. Many thanks for providing this link, Jacob!

  5. Jacob says:

    For those who don’t want to stay up to watch walking on the moon later tonight US time, CBS News is streaming its coverage all in one go, the landing and then the walk, on Youtube. So they are out walking around right now on the live stream:


  6. Grant M says:

    I remember it well. I was 12 and space mad. I saved newspaper clippings of all US and some USSR space missions from the time that Apollo 7 made its brilliant test of the Apollo spacecraft. I had books on space flight, I had models of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo rockets. (Atlas, Titan and Saturn, that is.)

    I remember our family gathered around the radio on Monday morning on the 21st of July, 1969, to hear the Eagle land on the Moon at 8:17 am NZ time. Then I raced on my bike to school, which started at 9 am. That afternoon they relayed the live broadcast from Mission Control through our school’s intercom. We did little school work that afternoon. We heard Armstrong step onto the surface of the Moon at 2:56 pm our time. School finished at 3pm, so I raced home to do homework, have dinner, and then went around to a friend’s house as our family had no TV. There I saw the grainy black and white images of Armstrong on the Moon, on the one channel available. (Yep, one.)

Comments are closed.