July 20, 2019
There are a few of them, of course… “Greatest Stories Ever Told,” that is. The first and greatest is the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Nothing even comes close to that.
There are other really great stories, though. Here are my nominees for the also-rans:
#2: The birth of the United States of America
#3: The defeat of the Axis in World War II
#4: The defeat of the Soviet Union
#5: Men walk on the moon.
Today is the 50th anniversary of the day on which Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon. For those of us who followed the space program avidly, it’s hard to describe the suspense, the anticipation, the fear and worry… the thrill.
Only two of the Apollo 11 astronauts remain among us: Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Neil Armstrong is gone, too early, since August of 2012.
I went once to a speech of Buzz Aldrin’s. It was wonderful. He’s a very small man. The astronauts had to be. The space capsules were very small, so the men who piloted them had to be small. Aldrin was, is, a good, dynamic speaker. He arrived in his sparkling white Air Force uniform. He was really impressive before even arriving at the speaker’s dais. A physically small man, with a huge presence.
Aldrin spoke of going to Mars and what it’ll take to get there. He was hoping that we’d go there in his lifetime, and he said that it was certainly possible, but he doubted that it’d happen. He concluded that, of course, we’d be going to Mars, and he was sad that he likely wouldn’t be there to see it.
I’d always wanted to be an astronaut, but I was disqualified by the age of 13, at which point I was 6’1″ tall. But that meant that I became an avid spectator, which I remain to this day.
It’s still one of the greatest things that this country — that humanity itself! — has ever done (don’t forget, we Americans largely did #’s 2, 3 or 4 as well) and its pinnacle, 50 years ago today, is my nominee for the fifth Greatest Story Ever Told.