30 year anniversary of lunar landing today
It was a shared experience that seemed to shout there are no limits. Thirty years later, man is not living on the moon or in a “Jetson” cartoon inspired world, but the moment is still fresh in memory.
John Lightholder was 14 years old in 1969 and living in Hollywood when Neil Armstrong made his historic descent down the ladder to step gingerly on the surface of the moon.
“When I stepped outside you could hear everyone’s television. You could hear an echo. It was like everyone in the world was watching. I was in awe, as in awe as a 14-year-old can get. The future looked incredible. We were all supposed to be living with the Jetsons right now,” said Lightholder, a member of the Lake Tahoe Astronomers. “For a long time space was looked on as a really vast unknown. The astronauts had a lot of guts.”
South Lake Tahoe Mayor Judy Brown said the original astronauts became common household names during the early days of America’s space program.
“I was sitting in my mother’s living room, cross-legged, giving my 20-day-old son a bottle. I remember thinking how incredible it was. Now, watching live events is expected, back then it was something. My father started my interest in the space program when he drug me up on the roof to watch Sputnik go over.”
California State Assemblyman Rico Oller estimated that the moon landing was the single most watched event up until that point.
“I was 11 or 12 years old and we lived in Jamestown. I remember walking about a quarter of mile to our cousin’s house to watch the moon walk on their television. It was a monumental occasion for everybody. The space program expanded our horizons, not only literally, but it expanded our belief in what man was capable of doing. We envisioned that people would be going to work with jet packs by now. I remember seeing advertisements for futuristic communities, with people flying to work in helicopters. So much of what we viewed the future would be is not, but so many things we saw as science fiction have in fact become reality.”
Senator Tim Leslie, R-Calif., was working as a legislative staffer for the assembly’s ways and means committee at the time of the moon walk. He was sitting in the living room of his first home in Carmichael with his wife Clydene, and their 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son when he watched the broadcast.
“I remember thinking if we can land a man on the moon, just imagine the world my two children are going to be living in at my age. I remember being absolutely amazed at such a tremendous accomplishment. I’m still as amazed today as I was back then,” Leslie said.
Dr. Steve Adams, chair of the American Studies division at Lake Tahoe Community College, said Apollo 11’s mission was one brief shining moment in an otherwise dark section of American history, but had little lasting impression.
“I don’t think anyone really knew just how incredible a feat it was, and that it could have gone south at any time. When I looked back on (the moon walk) in the 1970s, my opinion and many of my colleagues was what an incredible waste of money. It was something, as far as humanity was concerned, that didn’t offer much. The moon walk is certainly not a major discussion in any of my history classes. It just faded into history.”
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