Nota Bene #115: RIP No. 32

“If you’re really pro-life, do me a favor—don’t lock arms and block medical clinics. If you’re so pro-life, lock arms and block cemeteries.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #92: Echoblowcation

A few things for you NB readers: Continue reading

The First Step

apollo11-lifemagazineForty 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.

Triumph and tragedy: LIFE and the Space Race

Part five in a series.

LIFE’s portrayal of the space race represented, in most respects, a logical extension of its war coverage. Many of the space program’s early goals were military in nature, and as in World War II, technology was once again both demon and messiah, depending on whether it was theirs or ours.

. . .Sputnik proved that there were great military, as well as scientific, advances in the U.S.S.R. Getting their heavy satellite up meant that Russia had developed a more powerful rocket than any the U.S. had yet fired and substantial Soviet claims of success with an intercontinental missile. Putting Sputnik into a precise orbit meant Russia had solved important problems of guidance necessary to aim its missiles at U.S. targets. The satellite could also be the forerunner of a system of observation posts which would watch the U.S. unhindered and with deadly accuracy (10/21/57, 24). Continue reading