Steve Eighinger

Memory of the moon landing remains vivid

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 18, 2019 12:01 am

I'm pretty sure any self-respecting baby boomer probably remembers watching the moon landing 50 years ago come Saturday.

For me, it's one of those moments that will always be frozen in time, and if you're one of those modern-day conspiracy theorists who say it never happened don't even bother trying to persuade me.

While the whole idea of sending men to the moon was fascinating in its own right, I never knew until years later some of the subplots and aftermath connected to the historic event. Here are some of the revelations that, to this day, make the moon landing one of the most special -- and prized -- events in our history:

º The three Apollo 11 astronauts -- Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins -- were kept quarantined for 21 days after returning to earth, just in case they had contracted some sort of "moon disease."

º Being a baseball fan, I truly love this story. Six years before the moon landing, in 1963, San Francisco Giants manager Alvin Dark said, "They will put a man on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run." Perry, a notoriously bad-hitting pitcher, socked his first-ever home run about one hour after the moon landing.

º In 2006, NASA admitted it no longer had the original video tapes of the moon landing because officials had inadvertently recorded over them. I hope whoever made that decision got reassigned.

º The nylon American flag planted on the moon during Apollo 11 cost $5.50.

º Before the Apollo 11 mission, all the three astronauts signed hundreds of autographs. If anything wound up happening to them, the plan was for those signatures to be auctioned/sold in an effort to make money to support their families.

º The television audience for the moon landing was said to be 600 million. So, if I hadn't watched it would have been 599,999,999?

º Aldrin is the first person -- and so far the only person -- to participate in the Christian ritual of communion on the moon.

º Armstrong and Aldrin were on the lunar surface for about 21 hours, 36 minutes and 21 seconds.

º Armstrong described the scent of moon dust somewhat similar to wet ashes in a fireplace.

º Living in Ohio at the time, there was a special sense of pride on that day because Armstrong was from Wapakoneta, less than two hours from where I was watching the event.

º President Richard Nixon and his staff were well aware that there was a possibility the astronauts would not return home. The president had a speech prepared in the event that tragedy played out. It read:

"Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace. These brave men ... know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that their is hope for mankind in their sacrifice."

All of these years later, the memory of that day remains oh so clear. I watched it all on a small, black-and-white television set during the summer before my sophomore year of high school. I felt so proud of our country that day.

And I still do.