July 20, 1969: Following a decades-long pursuit of monetary and intellectual energy for a once-in-a-lifetime moment of unrivaled ingenuity, coupled with the bravery of astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, the United States successfully landed a man (well, three men) on the moon.
“That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Still an astonishing achievement 50 years later.
As part of the celebration and necessary reminder of that historic journey into the ever-expansive and unforgiving darkness of space, let’s recall the presidential charge given by John F. Kennedy back in 1962.
Interestingly, my parents attended the “JFK Space Summit” at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum on June 19, 2019. One of the panels, “NASA: From the Moon to Mars 7 Beyond” featured Apollo 11 Lunar Command Module pilot Michael Collins. Moreover, Douglas Brinkley signed copies of his new book American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race. My parents bought one of those signed books, which they will hopefully allow me to borrow so I can learn in-depth facts of that amazing journey as chronicled by a New York Times bestselling author.
Listening to President Kennedy’s unambiguous message to Americans is still an astonishingly ambitious — and uniquely American — declaration more than 50 years later.
While there is a long list of awe-inspiring films made about space with a certain reliance on realism– ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ ‘Interstellar,’ ‘Gravity,’ ‘Apollo 13,’ ‘The Right Stuff’ — the documentaries and based-on-real-events’ film ‘First Man’ about the famed Apollo 11 mission take on a different gravity of storytelling.
CNN’s ‘Apollo 11’ documentary along with the July 12th-release of the documentary ‘Armstrong’ that is narrated by the quintessentially rebellious American voice of Harrison Ford celebrates and takes us back to how that triumphant mission came together for this country as well as mankind.
Here is the trailer for ‘Armstrong.’
According to reviews, ‘Armstrong’ does not live up to fellow 2019 documentary ‘Apollo 11’ or the major motion picture ‘First Man’ yet it still provides insights into the man who seemed destined to help perform the moonshot of all moonshots.
On that note, what will be America’s next “moonshot”?
There will be no shortage of ideas in the coming week as we celebrate the Apollo 11 mission that was a giant leap 50 years ago, forever holding a unique space in human history.
The Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy-led ‘First Man’ from 2018 revisited the historic Apollo 11 mission that culminated in the United States landing on the moon on July 20, 1969. The film’s director Damien Chazelle and his set crew beautifully recreated the moon’s surface and chronicled the first step by Neil Armstrong as well as a surprise, deeply reflective walk that personalized a grand moment that is now–impressively–more awe-inspiring.
Hollywood can dramatize and expertly recreate historic events. And yet a documentary tells a true story in masterful, artistic ways that are, at times, indescribable.
‘Apollo 11’ is one of these realities.
Director Todd Douglas Miller and major motion picture distributor Neon aims to do just that with its recent official trailer.
An exact release date has not been determined for ‘Apollo 11.’ Although it’s fair to say that people will surely mark their calendars when this exciting and informative documentary finally takes off into a theater near you.
“…one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Neil Armstrong of Apollo 11 proclaimed these words on the surface of the moon on this day back in 1969. This moment defined the United States as the world leader in space travel. For the first time in history, humans had landed on the moon. We were not on top of the world, we were above it. The Space Race was over and the United States had won. We were #1.
Nearly a decade was dedicated to achieving the mission of venturing not only into space, but a place we could only before look at with wide-eyed wonderment and curiosity: the moon. A challenge was presented and with hard work and determination completed despite incredible obstacles. It was inspiring and triumphant. (Cue “The Launch” from the ‘Armageddon’ soundtrack). It was an American moment.
Fast forward to July 20, 2012 and it feels as if we’ve missed our target. Instead, we’re slowly floating away from the place we know we should be landing in order to make groundbreaking new discoveries. Current policy needs dramatic changes and some politicians need to be replaced. The mission isn’t clear and there is nobody leading the charge. This all feels uneasy and even downright wrong to many. Quite frankly, it feels un-American in the sense that struggling in all the ways we are is what other countries do, but not US.
“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” President John F. Kennedy
Who will be the big dreamer and have that winning mentality to lead a nation into a space we’ve never been before? The American people want it, the country deserves it and the world needs it. The United States and its people need a defining moment, one that will change the course of history for the better as the U.S. has done so many times in its young and impressive history. In 1969, the U.S. was #1. It takes exceptionally hard work and vision to remain the best. The question is who has the flashlight to direct us out of the darkness and proudly plant the American flag into the ground to declare victory and superiority like three brave astronauts did 43 years ago on the moon? I repeat, the moon.