When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin launched into space on July 16, 1969, they had no guarantee that they would make it all the way to the Moon. No one did, not NASA, not President Nixon. The President even wrote an alternate speech in case the Apollo 11 mission failed horribly like Apollo 1. Luckily for mission commander Armstrong and pilot Aldrin, though, their venture into the unknown succeeded and they were able to plant the American flag in the lunar surface.
It's an understatement to say the Moon landing changed history. Apollo 11 revolutionized our understanding of the solar system and the universe. Grandparents, teenagers, and even toddlers huddled around television screens everywhere on July 20, 1969 to see the famous astronauts take just a few small steps. They were all floored.
Reddit users have collaborated to share their own recollections of that momentous day. Some memories are humorous, some are poignant, and some are just fleeting wisps from a three-year-old's point of view.
American Honeymooners Were Treated Like Royalty
"My parents were on they honeymoon in Majorca, islands off the Spanish cost in the Mediterranean. They saw the landings in a little corner restaurant. Being the only Americans in the area, all the locals refused their money and bough them dinner and drinks all week long. They were never so proud to be from America, it was truly unifying to be a human, nations and language barriers fell.
That weekend Ted Kennedy drove off the road with Mary Jo Kopechne in Chappaquiddick. When the news broke, they were never so embarrassed to be Americans."
Lyndon B. Johnson Had A Cynical Reaction
"Here is one from LBJ on the Apollo program:
'It's too bad, but the way American people are, now that they have all this capability, instead of taking advantage of it, they'll probably just piss it all away.'"
Regular Programming Was Interrupted
"I was really mad because they interrupted my favorite cartoon, just to wait and see man land on the moon, big whoop, where's my Road Runner?!!"
People Stayed Up Late To Catch The Screening
"I was 12 at the time and my parents and I sat up into the early hours of the morning Irish time, to watch it, as did everybody else I knew. I had a huge Airfix model of the Saturn up in my bedroom and had practiced the landing on my lunar surface mock-up (carefully crumpled bed sheets) that I was totally confident of success. It was the actual vehicle that floated my boat though, as opposed to the human element of the mission. The whole space program inspired me to pursue a career in aviation though and some twenty years later I found myself working on the rudder modifications to Concorde – the nearest thing we had to a spaceship over here in Europe at the time!...
The 12 year old me would have never have guessed that I would reach my mid 50s and still no return to the Moon though, for manned missions at any rate. Mars is the focus instead. Strange how things work out."