There are some events that move people throughout their lives; there are only a handful of events that can move the entire world in one single moment of time. The other day, the Tate Lecture Series provided me an opportunity to relive one of those moments by putting on the documentary “In the Shadow of the Moon” by David Singleton to prepare some of us for the arrival of Buzz Aldrin on our campus.
This documentary captures the events leading up to and during the Apollo missions, beginning in the early 1960s, that would eventually lead to the first man on the moon. I know some people on the SMU campus had the opportunity to watch this event live on television those fateful days. I am envious of them because watching it now brings me down to Earth and inspires me spiritually. How many moments in your life could you say that you were able to share with everyone in the world?
Whenever the returning astronauts from the first mission to the moon, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, traveled the world, everyone that came and shook their hands would say, “We did it.” This monumental event could be the moment that defined the entire twentieth century. We were able to share something special together.
The moon landing also grounded all of us as well. One of the astronauts on the Apollo missions could hide the Earth behind his thumb. No one else, aside from those who have ventured to the moon, could ever say that. Back then, we perceived this Earth as a limitless entity that we could use as we wanted. Ever since that day, we have been conserving our resources and our planet. Every issue that we thought was important became insignificant when we considered how small the Earth truly is.
This is not to say that we are just insignificant beings in the universe. We should feel lucky for what we have. Alan Bean, an astronaut from the Apollo 12 mission, spent the first few weeks at home going to the mall, grabbing some ice cream, and watching the people go by. Imagine being one of two people on the bare moon for two or three days. I know I would be in amazement and would not be able to wait to be back home with my friends and family.
Being in a place like that must be one of the most peaceful, spiritually uplifting moments of a lifetime. Regardless of religious belief, one could appreciate the shear magnitude of seeing the world as only the astronauts could, as well as how the Earth was created. The Earth is such a rich, beautiful sight from up above. Everyone who viewed the Earth on television as the astronauts’ saw it were dead silent in awe when they saw the Earth as the sphere that very few have seen in real life. It amazes me that something like that occurred and I am very moved when I even imagine how it would have felt to be in their shoes.
The crazy part about it is that this may not have happened if it had not been for one man’s vision and dream. John F. Kennedy, who was not alive to realize his promise, would have been proud that we achieved such a monumental event, not just for America, but also for mankind. This achievement was one of many steps that would propel us to the technological state that we are in today and I am excited that Buzz Aldrin chose to come here to speak to us.
Bryan Manderscheid is a freshman engineering major and can be reached for comment at email@example.com