Monday, July 20, 2009

July 20, 1969

July 20, 1969 was the most magical night of my childhood.  We were staying at a cottage near Goderich on Lake Huron.  The people in the cottage next door had a TV with bunny ears.  They could get CBC and some Detroit stations on a good night. 

My father and went over around 9PM.  It was a double treat because I got to watch the moonwalk and stay up really late.  We were initially disappointed with the quality of the TV signal and had trouble understanding what we were looking at.  That changed when Armstrong appeared coming down the ladder.  Everyone was transfixed.  We all cheered when he stepped off the lander.  It was very exciting.  In addition, the TV coverage let us know that all over the world, things had come to a stop while a billion people watched the moment on TV.  For the first time, I think, a lot of people felt part of a global community.  This was a high point, not just for Americans, but for the entire race of humans.  Everyone felt like it was their achievement.

After a while, the excitement died down a bit.  Their actual tasks were kind of boring to watch, except every 30 seconds, you'd remember that they were on the moon.  Right now.  This second.  And you'd get excited all over again.

Around 11, my father and I walked the few hundred meters back to our cottage.  On that part of Lake Huron, there is a large cliff over the beach.  The path went along the top of this cliff.  You couldn't see the lake along most of the path because of trees.  But at one point, we came to a clearing.  And there, right in front of us was the nearly full moon.  It looked so close you could almost touch it.  I felt that if I looked hard enough, I'd be able to see Armstrong and Aldrin. 

The moon was low in the sky and a golden color.  Because we were high above the lake, the moon reflected in 10,000 golden shimmers in the water below.  I think it was the most beautiful, magical thing I've ever seen.