Monday, July 20, 2009

The Forgotten Men

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the first time man walked on the moon.

We just finished watching a documentary on the mission, and it was awe-inspiring to say the least. A group of human beings used their intellect to send three men across space to the lunar surface. Everyone involved with that day and everything that led up to that day should be celebrated - not just today but every day. They were and are truly great men.

Tonight I also found myself incredibly pissed off. Not about the fact that we've neither been back nor gone beyond the moon - that's pissed me off for years. What had my nose so out of joint was through 13 years of schooling, I was never taught anything about the space program.

Prior to the movie Apollo 13, I never knew we went to the moon more than once. Men actually walked on the moon during six different missions. (The Apollo Program Flight Summary) Oh, sure, I'd seen some pictures of the other missions, but I always thought they were part of the original landing. And since my teachers never bothered to tell me differently, I never thought to investigate for myself.

Bah and Feh.

During the documentary tonight, I saw footage I'd never seen before. I watched the same thing those people in 1969 saw. It's sad that forty years later I'm seeing it for the first time. I missed being alive for the landing by 10 months. There was nothing I could do about that. But this piece of history was too damn important for it to have been left out of my education. There was something someone could've done about that, but some reason, they dismissed it.

I knew about Leif Erickson's accidental landing in Canada, though. The marauding Viking who stumbled upon this continent by accident got more face time in my schooling than a group of men who deliberately risked their lives to reach the moon.


When I saw the movie Apollo 13 for the first time, I was shocked by how little I knew about the space program. Those poor men who died in Apollo 1 lost their lives and because of them, we learned how to make the module safer so others could survive the trip. I never knew about them. The eighteen men who went back after the first moon landing risked their lives so we could learn more about the celestial object above us. I never knew about them either.

So, as I sit here in awe of those men who did the impossible forty years ago, I am filled with a sense of loss for all those years I sat ignorant of their achievements. At this point, all I can do is learn what I can and make certain my daughter has the knowledge I was never given.

Pass the history along. Make sure these men are never forgotten. They deserve at least this much from the country they served so long ago.


  1. My husband actually works for NASA now and since we can watch the shuttle launch from our backyard, we're especially close to this subject.

  2. Oh wow. That is too friggin' cool. I'm jealous of you both now.

    The closest I ever got to anything like that was visiting the Cape and doing the tourist thing. I never did catch a launch. =o(

  3. I'm not terribly surprised about the space program gap--I never got any education about it, either, and it seemed like my U.S. history classes always ended after covering WWII.

    So thanks for the education, because this is an important part of both our past and our present.