Wright Brothers Monument Celebrates Apollo 11 Landing

From the 1969 broadcast. Buzz Aldrin sets foot on the surface of the moon.

With a few hundred viewers spread across the lawn next to the Wright Brothers Monument tonight, the National Park Service celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon with a rebroadcast of the Walter Cronkite commentary.

It was an emotional evening. Perhaps not as emotional as that moment and day in 1969 when the national and the world held it collective breath waiting for Neil Armstrong to set foot on the moon. 

Yet it was emotional. Fifty years after the event, it is still thrilling to here Armstrong say, “That’s one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind.”

It was fascinating watching the broadcast and the interplay between Astronaut Wally Schirra, who was teamed up with the veteran newsman, and Cronkite. They were not sure what Armstrong had said at first, although to the viewers at the Wright Brothers the words seemed clear. It took several minutes in the original broadcast for Cronkite to get the official quote.

It wasn’t just Armstrong who walked on the moon that day. Buzz Aldrin followed Armstrong to the moon’s surface.

The images that live broadcast transmitted are primitive by today’s standards. It was all black and white and the focus was constantly going in and out. But at the time, the fact that it was television transmitted in real time over 240,000 miles was almost as much a miracle as the moon landing itself.

It was a wonderful night and a great reminder of how much can be accomplished when people believe in something in common.

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