July 20, 1969: The Eagle Has Landed
July 20, 1969 marks the greatest day in human history.
On that day, a lone figure descended a small ladder and stepped onto a world never before touched by a human being.
That man was Neil Armstrong.
The world he touched was the Moon.
For eons, since they could bend their necks and wonder at the lights that shined at night, humans have held the Moon in awe. Tales were told. Legends were formed. The human mind imagined and speculated and, yes, even feared.
What was it? From where did it come? Of what was it made? Was there anybody or anything there?
The questions were endless.
The answers were limited.
The fascination grew.
Then, in Houston, Texas in 1962, President John F. Kennedy threw down the gauntlet.
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
The decision was made.
The challenge was accepted.
The goal was set.
We would land a man on the Moon and return him safely to his earthly home. This would be done because it would marshall the best within us.
Because it was hard.
Because it was a seemingly insurmountable task.
It wasn’t merely crazy. It was absurd.
Yet, less than ten years later, video images were transmitted from a craft that had recently alit upon a barren landscape 238,900 miles from our blue Earth. The grey images showed an almost ghostly figure slowly exit the safety of his vehicle.
For the first time in history, a man would truly become a spaceman.
“One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.”
Even forty years later those words continue to stir the soul. They evince the hopes and feelings and desires of every person about the human experience, how even the highest of peaks can be climbed and attained.
One small step.
One giant leap.
With every small step we as individuals take, we move not only ourselves forward, we also move each other. The poet John Donne wrote
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
The actions we take, the goals we attain, the peaks we climb and surpass, they are all done by individuals — and we all benefit from them.
The men and women, the thousands of individuals who worked on the Apollo program, each contributed his or her best to make the dreams of our furthest ancestors manifest into reality.
From the wicked mind of Wehner von Braun who designed the rocket that would propel the three astronauts beyond Earth’s grasp …
… to the chain-smoking technicians who manned the consoles in Houston …
… to the workmen who lathed each part of the ship and its components …
… each delivered the best they had.
And each small part composed a giant whole.
A whole that would mark mankind’s greatest triumph.
What are your goals and dreams and aspirations?
What is the best that you have to offer?
Whatever they are, reach for them. As those three men — Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins — escaped the bounds of Earth and did what many thought impossible, you too can achieve your dreams.
On this July 20th, take a few moments to watch a video of the historic Moon landing. Let it sink in that humans did this.
From thoughts and ideas …
… to actions and deeds …
… to steps and giant leaps.
Know that whatever it is, so long as you set your mind to it and apply yourself, you can achieve it.
You will love these books because they would weigh less on the Moon.