Forty years ago yesterday, humans landed on the moon. In Norfolk, Virginia, my sister Kathy and I were three years old; our sisters Peggy and Susan were not quite eight months old. As best I remember, Dad wasn't home -- he was on a ship somewhere in the Caribbean, or maybe had already started work at a new job at the Pentagon. Mom was home alone with the four of us, and hugely pregnant with what would be our brother Ed.
Mom got Kathy and me out of bed to watch the black-and-white TV in her bedroom. I remember almost nothing about it, except standing in front of the television and hearing Mom say, "You have to remember this."
It didn't look real, but if the man on TV said it was the moon, it was the moon. What was much more vivid and real to me was four days later, when we watched the USS Hornet recover the landing capsule. We knew about ships like that; in fact, our dad's ship, the USS Austin, was part of the space recovery team four months later (although by that time, Dad was already on shore duty in Washington).
Even at three, I knew that we were part of the Navy, and that the Navy was part of the space program. I feel that sense of wonder and pride to this day.
Which is why I cannot understand or even really be civil to that small minority of people who continue to insist that the Apollo program was an elaborate hoax. Okay, maybe an army of bureaucrats and military types could have staged such a hoax one time; but why would anyone go through those motions six times, especially after the first Apollo mission killed three astronauts?
This brilliant website debunks the conspiracy theories point-by-point, and I recommend it to anyone foolish enough to try to argue with the Moon landing deniers.
In the meantime, I love the idea of starting a Mars program in earnest. It's a big universe ...