One Small Step

Here’s one of my favorite classic posts, originally posted on July 20,2009:

Although it’s past my bedtime, I can’t let this night go by without remembering July 20th, 1969. I was almost 8 years old, a tomboy and a daddy’s girl. My how the time flies! I remember sitting with my sister in our jammies in front of the TV, waiting for Neil Armstrong to take that first step on the moon. They didn’t show everything live as they do today, but skipped back and forth between graphics simulations, shots of mission control in Houston, and eventually a fuzzy live shot or two.

This was a very exciting time for my father. As an engineer for Bendix Corporation, he had designed instruments for many spacecraft that, over time, had led to this very important mission. Indeed, he had designed instruments for the Apollo spacecraft as well. He had a personal interest in seeing Mr. Armstrong step onto the lunar surface. At the same time, it was a bittersweet moment for my dad. His own dad, who had always proclaimed that we would walk on the moon one day, had passed on two years earlier and wasn’t there physically to share the moment. My dad was missing his own dad that evening, and no doubt silently cursing the cigarettes that had killed him without mercy at the young age of 57.

This evening I heard a former astronaut on the radio describe the earth as appearing like a blue and white jewel from out in space. He said that the earth really shines–actually sparkles– like a jewel and stands out in a dark sky. I was reminded of the song “From a Distance”, written by Julie Gold and sung so beautifully by Nanci Griffith. If you haven’t heard it, please make an effort to listen to it.

Remembering July 20th, 1969, I feel very fortunate to have descended from my wise grandfather and father, to have inherited their sense of wonder and inventiveness. I encourage you to explore new territory, to reach for the stars, and to stay away from tobacco, lest it take you from this earth too soon. I’d like to think, though, that my grandfather was up there somewhere, watching that first step on the moon along with the rest of us. You were right Grandpa Tony, you were right.

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