One Giant Leap

MANY Eastern Ohio residents – and others elsewhere – can remember what they were doing 45 years ago today.

Those with television sets were watching one of the greatest landings in the history of the world.

And it was an Ohioan, Neil Armstrong, who took the first step by a human being on the moon a few hours after informing Houston, “The Eagle has landed.”

Estimates are that half a billion were watching television, seeing one of the most momentous moments in history.

The Eagle, a lunar module, landed at 4:18 p.m., EDT, with Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin aboard, while Michael Collins orbited in the command module Columbia.

Being the first to place his foot on another world, Armstrong considered it to be a small step for a man and “one giant leap for mankind.”

He was followed onto the lunar surface shortly by Aldrin, and they collected samples from the moon and took photographs for two-and-a-half hours.

The three Apollo 11 astronauts had begun their journey July 16, and their splashdown in the Pacific Ocean was on July 24.

Not only did they bring back samples, but they left reminders of their historic trip on the moon, including a United States flag and a patch honoring the fallen Apollo 1 crew as well as a plaque. The plaque reads: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

Since that time, 10 more people have stepped onto the powdery moon dirt, and the last trip by human beings to the lunar surface was Dec. 14, 1972.

CHANGES are evident in space programs in the United States and elsewhere since the glorious days of the 1960s when names such as Alan Shepard, John Glenn and Armstrong were in the news. Of those three space pioneers, Glenn, a former New Concord resident, is the only one still alive, and he observed his 93rd birthday anniversary Friday.

Federal funding for the space program has decreased, and some other nations have stepped up their space activities. One advance to begin next year is an unprecedented study by U.S. scientists and involving identical twins.

THE “GIANT leap for mankind,” however, fulfilled the dreams and aspirations of past and present generations.