Editor’s note: This week we present a special edition of Yesteryears reprinting local residents’ reaction to the Apollo moon landing published from the July 21, 1969, edition of The Facts.
This was epochal history, and the millions knew it; this was an event that would begin and shape and dominate a milleniurn.
A vast array of separate achievements entered into making the event the precise success it attained. And one of these factors set the adventure apart from all others of history: The people could be there, seeing it happen.
Late Sunday, simulated flight had long since palled, and what sustained the hundreds of millions of eyes watching television was a promise. When Nell Armstrong began his descent, we were told, a tiny TV camera slung beneath the craft would show us the final steps, as they occurred. The promise was fulfilled, and the moment was magic. It stirred deep emotions of awe, of gratitude for nationality and humankind, of thoughtfulness about the meaning of what was happening.
To capture this moment in the minds of back-home participants, The Facts asked several to set down on paper their thoughts as they still watched. What were your thoughts as the astronauts walked about? What were your feelings about the significance 6f this hour to humanity and civilizations?
These are their answers:
Pipefitter, President, Metal Trades Council
This is truly a great day for all humanity, especially for Americans, and should be considered a reaffirmation of the proclamations of the great God of the universe.
It demonstrates that Americans still have the determination and courage of our forefathers in stepping out in adventure with a desire to provide a better way of life for those who follow after.
This also prompts us to think of and be thankful for the advancement this generation has made in technical knowledge and mechanical ability.
Surely we can better understand words of the late President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his first inaugural address, when he said, “All we have to fear is fear itself.”
REV. FAULK LANDRUM
It is, of course, impossible to evaluate the historic significance of any great event while it’s happening. Having said that, we always try to do it.
I talked with a group of teens who were watching the landing. Their comment was, “It’s only a stepping stone.” It is, and that’s its first significance.
We could draw endless meanings from this landing: Cooperative flights, resulting peace and cooperation among nations, unmeasured resources.
The discussion of the moral rightness or wrongness of the flight is, for all practical purposes, a dead issue. It flared temporarily with heart transplants, probably the discovery of fire. But man is created by God with a curiosity that calls him to try to open every door, and explore behind every door he can open.
Comparisons to Columbus or the Wright brothers are inevitable. While three small ships did not develop the new world or even explore it, they marked a route, and others soon followed where a way was shown. The Wright brothers flew for 12 seconds, but they did fly, and others flocked to follow. Now a thread has been stretched across another chasm; a rope will follow it; a bridge now will be built.
Man has shown again he is an incurable optimist, and moon landing has restored his optimism. Its significance is simply that man can and must and usually does explore creation and moves closer to cooperating with the Creator.
A new renaissance seems to be breaking out, in space exploration, medicine, religion, etc. The opportunities appear to be boundless; no projection seems ridiculous. We have barely scratched the surface of challenge and opportunity and potential benefits to humanity.
MRS. LEONARD LEVINE
League of Women Voters secretary, board member, AAUW
“My reaction is one of relief that man finally set foot on the moon because I believe that man is the creature with intellect and that we must use it to explore, investigate and question everything we are aware of.”
I would characterize this as being the most outstanding example of what man can achieve with determination and concerted effort. Even the sky is no longer the limit. The significance of this accomplishment cannot be completely evaluated. Only future events will make such evaluation possible.
We are no longer earthbound.
Businessman and Lake Jackson mayor
My first impression was how routinely everything went, how all the contingencies were worked out in advance and of the tremendous number of people who worked on this project. I guess I was most impressed with the amount of intelligence on part of large number of people working cooperatively on a program such as this with no provision for error. To me, this means that possibly the world should be able to solve its problems such as living together peacefully, hunger, riots, and to bring the living standard up.
We have a tremendous amount of intelligence that could be used to solve the problems here on earth.
Mayor of Clute
It is difficult to put into words how I feel. I’ve followed the space program from the beginning and it is difficult to realize I was seeing a man walking on the moon, to realize I was actually seeing the operation and then to realize the amount of technical knowledge and the many people involved in this.
A great deal of credit should go to the astronauts, but a great deal of credit also goes to those in the backup phases around the world.
We have heard for years that an education is the key to the future. This is even greater proof that youngsters of today will have to prepare themselves for what we will know as the exploration of the universe.
To my sense of thinking, this made me feel even more small in the place I occupy as an individual here on earth and I feel fortunate that this marvelous feat took place during my llifetime.
I think our prayers have been with the astronauts since the start of the mission and will continue to be with them
T. C. SELMAN
Businessman and Freeport mayor
I think that, from the people I talked to today and yesterday, people are certainly overjoyed with the success of the American moon mission.
When you contrast this with the pessimistic attitude of the American people after Russia launched the ‘Sputnik’ in the late 1950s, you can see the tremendous effect that it had on our nation.
I think this is a definite tribute to all of the nation, particularly in the field of technology, that by this very successful mission, America has completely established superiority in the exploration of outer space.
It is very definite that if people could go to the moon, that this nation needed to be there first.
Much has been said about the effects of the byproducts of the technological field, and I think our way of life will be improved in years by this spinoff in the exploration of space
Scientist; Director, Research & Development, Texas Division, Dow Chemical
“I was fortunate to have seen Apollo 11 from the launch. … to have gone through the assembly, studied the equipment, and it’s got to be the most sophisticated research endeavor I’ve ever seen.
“They mean business … and the performance certainly bears this out.
“I agree with others I’ve heard in the last 36 hours
“It is a fantastic accomplishment.
“Is it worth it?
“You bet it is.
“Think of the new developments in medicine, communication and instrumentation … the new metallurgical applications, the high-speed computer refinements, the weather data …
“There’s something like $24 billion worth of research that has gone into the space program … and most of it is now available. Thousands of business men are already screening this information and are finding it valuable to them.
“Of course, the biggest impact is. … We have put two men on the moon. … This has to be the best thing that has happened to our national pride in a long time.. … It has unified us … .brought us together.
FATHER F. G. WEARDEN
Pastor, St. Mary’s Catholic Church
This historic event is a source of pride for every American. Such achievement manifests our idealism and determination to excel. These qualities have made us a great nation, and give me pride to be an American. I pray for a successful completion to this mission, and that it will lead our nation and all mankind to unity and dedication of purpose.
REV. WARREN McALISTER
Pastor, Temple Baptist Church, Clute
My basic feeling was first thoughtful that God had permitted man to plant foot on the moon. I was likewise thankful that he allowed the United States to be the nation to put the first man on the moon. Then there was a deep feeling of gratitude that I was an American, and that each American could definitely feel that we had a part in this. And with our prayers and our concern, through the means of television, we were right there with them.
WALTER M. STAFFORD
Dow Personnel; co-chairman, Brazosport Christian Inter-Racial Fellowship
In listening and watching, I had a sense of optimism that grew and dominated my emotions during this event.
It was founded on this thought: If men can work together with such perfection and precision in getting man’s feet onto the moon’s surface, then surely they can also get together in solving human problems.
There must be diligence and finance to get this job done. But I’ve got a feeling we can do it.