The Photographs of Buzz Aldrin on this page were taken by Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the Moon.
Apollo 11 Memory from Maine
My family was camping in Cobscook Bay State Park in Maine on the day of the Apollo 11 Moon landing and Moon walk. I was 15 years old. It was warm and clear, and I remember how the air was filled with the salt smell of the water and the sweet scent of the bayberry bushes that surrounded our tent.
My father sat in the driver’s seat of our parked car with the radio turned up loud and all the car doors open so my mother and I could listen without having to sit in the hot car. My mother was at the picnic table and I sat beside the car on the warm ground. Together we listened to the calm voices of the astronauts and NASA mission control calling out and acknowledging altitude and velocity readings as the Lunar landing module descended toward the Moon’s surface.
There were static-filled pauses and gaps in the transmissions, and at each one I would hold my breath, and my father would lean forward over the steering wheel, his face and shoulders tense, eyes fixed on nothing, listening, until the calm voices broke through the static and continued. Then he would sit back a bit, and I would breath, until the next gap. Another moment of static, and we heard: “Contact light.” A pause, more static: “Shutdown.” Then; “We copy you down.” And then finally, perfectly clear: “Tranquility base here, The Eagle has landed.” followed by cheers and applause from ground control. Behind the wheel of the car my father was clapping and cheering too.
It was late afternoon but the Moon was already visible in the sky. I remember just staring at it and being amazed that right at that moment someone was up there, and yet they could still talk back and forth to Earth on the radio, and I could hear them. For me that was the most amazing thing, being able to hear someone talking all the way from the Moon. Even though the astronauts had traveled much further than Columbus, because of that radio they were less isolated and alone than Columbus and his sailors had been.
We stayed up late that night to listen to the Moon walk, sitting in the car in the dark. The Moon had set. The only light in the campground, other than the Coleman lantern on our picnic table, was from a lantern a few campsites away from ours where another family had also stayed up late to listen, huddled around a little transistor radio. Everyone else was asleep in their tents, so we kept the car radio low, leaning forward to hear through the crackle of static. We listened long enough to hear the famous phrase from Neil Armstrong: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” and to make sure the astronauts would not sink into the Lunar dust or fall through the crust, and then my father said we had to turn the radio off to save the car battery.
I stayed outside for a while after the rest of my family had gone to bed, sitting alone at the picnic table staring up at the stars thinking that for the very first time, someone was out there. They had gone to an unknown place, and I had listened to it all on the radio.
Apollo 11 Moonwalk Memory from Oklahoma
Everyone in my limited circle of family and friends was anticipating the Sunday evening Moonwalk. It was all anyone had talked about for days. I was eleven, and my family lived in eastern Oklahoma.
Earlier that day I had accompanied my grandparents as they visited with friends. My grandparent’s friends ranged in age from the late sixties to early eighties, and I sat listening to them talk. The comments of one couple in particular upset me. One of them said: “We are not meant to be on the moon, if God meant for us to be there He would have placed us there.” I was stunned. I had never stopped to consider that Divine Providence might object to such an event.
As I pondered the thought, my grandfather, a man with minimal formaleducation but an avid reader, broke the silence. His response was immediate, and it gave me a sense of security. He said: “and if God doesn’t want us there then we won’t be there.” The comfort that I took in his words was grounded in his common sense. Grandpa read the Bible every day and his approach to life was simple – treat people well, do what is right, and let God take care of the rest.
Later that night, as I sat glued to the TV watching Neil Armstrong take thathistoric step, my grandfather’s comment rang in my ear. God did not placelimitations on man’s abilityto step on the moon. Even more importantly,perhaps He was proud of the advancement of His creation.
John T. from IL writes: Like most American families, mine was glued to the TV for the Moonwalk. There was a lot of anxiety and speculation about what would happen when Buzz Aldrin actually set foot on the Moon’s surface. There had been some fear that he might sink deep into the Lunar dust, or he and Neil Armstrong might break through a weak spot in the Moon’s crust. No one knew what to expect. We all held our breaths when Buzz Aldrin took that first step off the ladder. It was such a relief to see them bouncing about, weightless. I remember learning in class that the American flag they planted was specially stiffened with wire so that it would look like it was flying in the wind. A regular cloth flag would have just hung there limp as there is no wind on the Moon. I was eight at the time, and all I wanted after that–like every other boy my age then–was to become an astronaut so I could bounce around on the Moon too. My room was papered with NASA posters. I ended up not becoming an astronaut, but I did become an engineer. My interest as a kid in the Apollo rockets and other technology surrounding the Moon missions definitely steered me in that direction.
Al G. from PA writes: Does anyone else remember standing outside at night in the late ’50s and early ’60s watching for satellites or the Apollo missions to pass over? I have a vague memory of standing outside on a freezing cold winter night with my father in the late 1950s, watching for some satellite (Sputnik, perhaps?) to pass over our house. Neighbors were out in their yards, too. I remember everyone being very excited. In the 1960s when I was a little older, I often went out by myself at night to look for the orbiting Apollo missions. At the beginning of the Space Age, seeing that tiny pinpoint of light speeding across the sky made you feel as if you had seen magic.
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