Forty years ago today, Apollo 11 lifted off from Cape Canaveral, heading for the moon. The astronauts would safely achieve orbit and, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong would take his famous “giant leap for mankind.”
I was a month old when the moon landing took place. Still, I can claim–albeit by technicality–that I was one of the millions of Americans who watched the moon landing on television. Sure, I was only a month old, but I still saw it.
I claim that moment for myself because the moon landing always strikes me as such a profound triumph of man’s will to redefine what is possible in this world (or, in this case, beyond our world). When I watch replays of Walter Cronkite anchoring the telecast of the moon landing, and he takes off his glasses and rubs his hands and can manage only to muster a “whew!” I can still feel Cronkite’s amazement. I can still feel my own amazement—and, yes, I still get choked up.
At a time when America frequently feels like it takes a step backwards for every step it takes forward, it’s nice to remember that we’re capable of giant leaps.