I feared that the upcoming 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing might get eclipsed by other celebrations (the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, etc.), but apparently the sky is the limit for Apollo 11 remembrances. And why not? This milestone offers something for everyone.
Those of us with enough gray hairs and wrinkles to remember the moon landing as “current events” view the New Frontier nostalgically, though we now experience some of the era’s buzzwords with a different perspective. Nowadays the eagerly awaited “splashdown” has less to do with an ocean rendezvous than with the hoped-for results of our latest high-fiber diet.
Youngsters with aspirations of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) career relish seeing footage of the myriad behind-the-scenes folks who made the moon landing possible.
Dance enthusiasts are excited that archival material might finally confirm that Neil Armstrong’s hastily scrapped original plans for his first words on the moon were “Put your right foot in, take your right foot out, right foot in and you shake it all about ...”
On a related note, linguists and survivalists alike are glad that President Kennedy’s 1962 speech gave Americans a challenge that was characterized as “hard” — not “Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.”
Stamp collectors are ecstatic the United States Postal Service is releasing two commemorative stamps featuring iconic images of the Apollo 11 mission. Next year, the USPS will issue commemorative stamps with iconic images of stamp collectors sitting home alone while their spouses are out on the town.
Conspiracy theorists are keenly interested in the anniversary. (”Of course, we actually went to the moon instead of filming it out in the desert. But the average person doesn’t realize that it was all part of a botched scheme to beam deadly vaccination rays back down on an unsuspecting earth!”)
Representatives of a certain fledgling industry hope to capitalize on the wistful thoughts of peaceniks who reminisce, “Maybe it cost billions, but for a few brief days in July of 1969, the world forgot its differences and pulled together.” (”Ahem — it might have been cheaper to have given everyone a lifetime supply of marijuana-infused Tang. Just saying.”)
Native American activists, mindful of how painfully slow our manned space explorations have been in the past half-century (compared to the rapid spread of railroads, highways and communications infrastructure) look with bemusement on the anniversary. (”Sure, if Columbus had spent three days here, then gone home and 50 years later sponsored a Duran Duran concert ... yeah, I could live with that.”)
More visionary thinkers, on the other hand, see the Apollo 11 hoopla as a jumpstart for manned missions to Mars and beyond. Like the Whos in the Dr. Seuss book, certain segments of mankind want to announce to the vast universe, “We are here, we are here, we are here ...”
Granted, when the bill for the deficit spending comes due, they may sing a different tune. (”We are temporarily indisposed, we are temporarily indisposed, we are temporarily indisposed ... and we didn’t leave a forwarding address!”)
Danny Tyree: can be reached at email@example.com.