One Small Step


Some historical events leave that “I remember where I was” kind of feeling. The Sunday morning newspaper and several news shows and documentaries are bringing reminders of one of those occasions this week as they focus on the first moon walk. One tends to remember where they were when they heard, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Neil Armstrong later said he had planned to say something slightly different and meant the quote to include the little word “a” so that it would be “one small step for a man” and hinted that people just failed to hear it correctly. However, he admitted on this week’s CBS Sunday Morning, after they played the recording, that he might have dropped the syllable – or “just goofed.” The writer in me wishes that his intent had been heard for the depth of meaning that it adds. I do like the way Buzz Aldrin captured his view of the moon in the words, “magnificent desolation.”

I watched from North Mississippi with a rapt five-year-old son on a black-and-white TV while trying to satisfy whatever was wrong with a cranky month-old baby daughter. We were four months into Al’s thirteen-month assignment in South Korea and three months before his midtour leave. I don’t know if that incident triggered the curiosity that the son has maintained all these years about newsworthy happenings and how things operate. We eventually figured out, too late to be of much help, that the cranky baby had a tongue thrust that made feeding her an ordeal rather than bringing comfort as is usual for babies.  

Along with enjoying the historical flashbacks on this fiftieth anniversary in magazines, newspapers, and television, I spend some time remembering where I was and am thankful that long year finally came to an end. Where were you when you heard, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”? – that is if you are old enough to remember.