I thought I would have more to say on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11.
Hanging on my office wall is a frame made for me by my son Joe to display newspapers from my collection of historic front pages. As I displayed the front page from the July 21, 1969 Columbus Dispatch, proclaiming “U.S. ASTRONAUTS WALK ON MOON!” earlier this month, I thought I’d need to blog something profound when the actual anniversary approached.
For inspiration, I read Charles Apple’s excellent analysis of dozens of newspapers’ anniversary coverage. I browsed the outstanding Moon Landing Memories site developed by Mark Kawar as part of Gannett’s History Beat project (I have long thought newspaper archives would be a tremendous digital asset that we have not yet used well). And, of course, again and again Friday night, I watched Walter Cronkite’s little-boy excitement at the historic event.
I recommend reading them both. And I recall that historic event fondly. I saved dozens of newspapers and magazines. I watched the news coverage every minute that I could. I recorded the audio of the TV coverage on my parents’ reel-to-reel tape recorder (and actually listened to it later).
And here are the thoughts I have on this anniversary:
- Will we ever again as a nation pursue such a monumental project?
- Will we ever again as a nation watch any non-tragic story in unison that way?
- Can President Obama, or any leader, give us again the sense of purpose that President Kennedy did in announcing, pursuing and achieving (long after he was gone) the goal of reaching the moon?
- What would be a goal that distant and worthy, yet achievable, today?