WHAT I WAS DOING 45 YEARS AGO -- ON JULY 11

A month late to the anniversary party, but...

The first ever "selfie" on the moon.
I'll never forget that July day forty-five years ago lying enraptured in front of my grandparent's RCA/Victor color TV set (yes -- color!), with a volume of my illustrated Golden Treasury of Knowledge opened to a painted map of the moon, my finger glued to a gray splotch called the Sea of Tranquility, watching as a tiny spaceship carried two Americans ever closer to the moon's silent surface.

Then, along with the rest of the world, I heard the voice of Commander Neil Armstrong telling us all, "The Eagle has landed."

All those serious-looking, nerdy NASA guys at their computers (real computers!) instantly became a crowd of uninhibited sports fans, tearfully cheering for the greatest touchdown in history! Mr. Cronkite cried, my eyes grew wide, my mouth silently hung open for timeless moments.

There were many who went into space before them, and many more who visited space (and the moon) after them, but there is only one "first moon landing." Only two men (Armstrong and Aldrin) will forever be the first humans to set foot on any other world outside our own. And if all that sounds a little like hero-worship, it's only because it is.

No performance enhancing drugs. No tasteless trashing of hotel rooms. No rude gestures or lewd language thrown at photographers. No outlandish backstage demands along celebrity book tours. Just two American guys walking on the moon, and a buddy (Collins) in floating space waiting to take them home -- forever heroes for countless ten-year-olds like me.

"I am, and ever will be," Neil Armstrong once said, "a white-sock, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer."

That may be, but he is certainly the greatest "white-sock, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer" we know.

August 5, 2014

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