I wasn’t really a sit-in-front-of-the-TV kid during summer vacation. There was too much to do outside, growing up in Southern Arizona, like bike riding, swimming, and by the time I was eleven years old, riding my Dad’s old Yamaha 100 on an acre and a half of open desert next to the neighborhood where I lived. So in the middle of July, it was very unusual for me to be sitting in the living room in front of the television, fascinated by the lunar landing.
The world was changing, our teachers had told us that spring, in anticipation of what would happen during the summer. We would leave school in the pre-lunar landing age, and return in the post-lunar landing age. At the time, at least for me, it did not seem like there was much difference. That was a realization that would come later on. It was a point, in my memory, when the desired future occupation of many of my classmates suddenly changed to “astronaut.” That fall, the experiences of those days watching the television became the subject matter of much of what was written and discussed in the classroom. And I remember all of those feelings coming back some time later on when the moon rocks, making a tour of the US, arrived in Tucson and our entire class went to see them.
Perhaps the day that man landed on the moon does not mark time in American History the way Pearl Harbor does, or the way 9-11 has come to do, but it is one of those days which changed the way we mark time, and the way we think about things. Something that many people once believed to be completely impossible was accomplished, and it affected the way we think about things permanently. There is no going back. And it is exciting to have been alive at the time, and have a memory of it. For an eleven year old boy in a small town in Arizona, it was a day when the bike and the pool were set aside for something fascinating and life changing. But it is now a treasured memory, the significance of which I may only be beginning to understand.