Forty years ago I remember exactly where I was when this picture was taken. I was in the family room of my home with my dad sitting in his rocking chair next to me.
I don’t remember this picture in color. I remember it in black and white. That’s the kind of TV we had.
I was 11. For years we’d been watching the Gemini, then Apollo space craft blasting off during classes during school. It was always kind of cool when they’d let you watch TV during school hours.
John Glenn and Wally Schirra were big time heroes, bigger than Mickey Mantle or Bob Gibson. This was dangerous stuff they were doing. People died.
A remarkable feat is even more remarkable knowing now that these guys were flying machines that had less technology than today’s microwave oven. They saddled themselves to rockets like some kind of science fiction cowboys and shot themselves into the sky. But this wasn't science fiction. People died.
Landing on the moon didn’t necessarily give us any more information than we already had. Actually it was kind of a waste of time. It wasn’t about science as much as it was about achieving a goal once thought impossible. It was about fulfilling a promise made eight years earlier.
Before this photo, the moon was a sort of nightlight in the sky. After, it became a place where the earth looked small, an achievement, and a source of wonder. And, isn’t that what it’s supposed to be?