Forty years ago my friends and I were complete engrossed in yet another baseball game in our front yard. It was a daily ritual that lasted from the moment the sun began peeking over the horizon and ended with the last player’s mom called from a far off porch telling us it was time for bed. There was very little that could disrupt our continuous ball game. But on a fateful day in mid-July 1969; all play stopped.
From the front door my father emerged and walked out onto our make shift ball field. “I thought you might like to know that Apollo 11 is beginning its decent.” With that announcement someone yelled “Time Out!” and the game stopped. We dropped our mitts and ran to the house. Every kid in the neighborhood was now in the living room glued to the front of the television. We sat and listened as we heard the voices of the astronauts and mission control. The picture was nearly non-existent and by today’s standards it was horrible quality but each of us felt as though we were there sharing a cabin with Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong.
For a brief moment we too were astronauts traveling away from Earth’s atmosphere to the unknown adventure of setting foot on the moon. My mother bless her heart helped these dreams by bringing each of us space snacks which were kind of like a homemade version of <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Food_Sticks”>Pillsbury Space Food Sticks</a> and of course a glass of <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tang_%28drink%29”>Tang</a>. As we snacked on chocolate cookies shaped like astronaut food we watched as Neil Armstrong took that first step and uttered his immortal words.
We watched the entire broadcast that day before finally leaving the living room and our adventure to return outdoors. Each of us stopped to look at the sky in a completely different way. We were no longer an earthbound species. Things would be different now. We had fulfilled a dream that was first mentioned by a president when we were babies and now man had walked on the moon.
That night I sat on the grass after the other ballplayers had left and looked up at the sky. The moon seemed closer now. It was within reach. My mind raced with the possibilities. I envisioned there being space stations and settlements on the moon. I truly believe that in my life time we would see men set foot on another planet and stretch our boundaries even beyond our imagination.
Somewhere those dreams fell back to earth just like the command module of Apollo 11. There would be others who would walk on the moon but then we would leave never to return. Now here we are 40 years later and I once again find myself looking up at the moon and dreaming of what could have been. Hopefully somewhere there is someone with a dream as strong as John F. Kennedy who can persuade us to once again reach to the stars and beyond.