This article appeared in the July 19, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Apollo moon landing: Where were you 50 years ago?

Jose Luis Magana/AP
An image of a 363-foot Saturn V rocket used in the Apollo 11 mission is projected on the Washington Monument, during the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing festivities at the National Mall in Washington, July 18, 2019.
Eva Botkin-Kowacki
Science, environment, and technology writer

Welcome to your Monitor Daily. Today, listen as two astronauts who have been to the moon describe the wonder of space. In addition, we’ll explore the usefulness of political dialogue away from public glare, the ethics of technological augmentation, where truth trumps threats, and the unifying power of music.

But first: Saturday marks 50 years since Neil Armstrong took “one giant leap for mankind.” Millions of people watched live back on Earth as the Apollo 11 crew made history. Now, five decades later, the first moon landing has become one of those where-were-you-when moments.

Linda Feldmann, the Monitor’s Washington bureau chief, was almost 10 and watched on a friend’s color TV in her pajamas. Mideast editor Ken Kaplan celebrated with homemade rockets at sleep-away camp in Maine as an 11-year-old. Retired science reporter Pete Spotts, a recent high school graduate riveted by the coverage, thought about calling in sick for work as a disc jockey.

Covering the Apollo program, reporters felt a unique sense of duty, recalls Bob Cowen, longtime Monitor science editor, now retired. “We were writing for our publications, but we weren’t just doing that,” he says. “We were conveying the importance of this to all mankind.” 

I have never known a world in which people have not walked on the moon. But for those who did, there is a sense of “before Apollo” and “after.” 

“The moon landing marked the start of an irreversible optimism about setting audacious goals,” says the Monitor’s chief editorial writer, Clayton Jones, who was 18 at the time. “It made my previous goals in life seem small and needlessly constrained.”

This article appeared in the July 19, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 07/19 edition
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