20 July 2019

50 Years Ago Today

Posted by Dan Satterfield

The upside-down TV image as Armstrong descended the LEM ladder.

Where was I at 30 seconds past 4:17 PM EDT 50 years ago today?

When the Eagle landed on the Moon I was in a car north of Tulsa in Oklahoma with my Great Grandmother. Annie Higgins was an amazing woman who as a girl walked to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) behind a covered wagon.

She remembered reading in the paper of the Wright Bros. flight. She watched the news-reels of Lindbergh in Paris. She saw the jet age but never flew in an aircraft once in her life.

My Father and Great Grandmother Annie Pearl Higgins.

She never had any doubt the Moon landing was real however because she had seen the entire age of flight in her long lifetime. If you had told anyone that hot hazy Sunday afternoon that 50 years later, no humans would have visited the Moon since 1972, they would have laughed at you. Humans will be living on the Moon in 50 years was a prediction that no one would think of betting against. It was a ludicrous thought that we would go 5 more times then not return, yet it has turned out to be true.

Of the 6 of us in the car that day, my Great Grandmother and my Great Aunt are now gone. My Aunt Wanda passed just three years ago. My three cousins and I are 50 years older and a lifetime has passed, but that moment is embedded in our memories. How could anyone not remember the moment when human history passed a milestone that would forever be noted in history books.

Like everyone else who had access to one, I was in front of our new colour TV at 10:56 PM EDT when Armstrong stepped off the LEM. When the grainy black and white picture came on screen, it was upside down. I realised it before the rest of my family and pointed to Neil Armstrong’s boot coming down the ladder, at the bottom of the screen. NASA soon flipped the image, and CBS flashed words that seemed unreal on the screen- LIVE FROM THE SURFACE OF THE MOON.

A lot has changed since that day and nearly all are for the better.

Nearly all.

Martin King and Robert Kennedy were in their graves just a year passed, victims of the battle against hate. A battle that most thought would long be passed 50 years in the future. We were all wrong about that as well.

But the fight for a better world and that yearning to see what’s over the next hill is just as strong among those of us who dream as it was 50 years ago.

A muggy Sunday night in a far different world than today.