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Editor’s Note: To celebrate the moon landing’s 50th anniversary, we are reprinting the editorial about this historic feat that was published in The Wilson Daily Times on July 21, 1969.
The greatest event of the ages took place before your eyes. You saw two intrepid explorers, brave men, prepared men and confident men, land the Eagle on the moon, step down in their space suits and walk around on the moon for more than two hours. Then they went back into their space module, the Eagle, to await the rendezvous with the Columbia and return to earth.
The adventure defies the imagination, although you sat in your comfortable living room, or some other place of your choosing, and saw the entire experience. What you saw was taking place in another world, for no longer is man earthbound — for the universe is within his grasp.
This thought was well expressed by President Nixon when he spoke from the White House to astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin, the first men to put foot on the moon. And the message from Armstrong was equally as appropriate and thrilling as the two men spoke to each other and from different spheres of greater things to come.
Yesterday was one Sunday where the majority of the people could be accounted for. They were watching and reading of the Apollo 11 trip to the moon and man’s first attempt to land on another planet. One of the astonishing points of the adventure is the few seconds it takes to bring back pictures from the moon and for the voice to travel from the earth to the moon and return.
There is no question as to the achievement and congratulations with prayers for the safe return of the three astronauts poured into this country from the leaders of the nations. The pictures and program were broadcast the world over with the exception of Russia.
You are naturally surprised that Russia did not carry the broadcast over the government network after the president declared the project of worldwide consequence, one where all nations and people would benefit, and the American astronauts carried the metals of the two Russian cosmonauts who have died to plant with all the other historic emblems on the moon.
It has also been said the majority of the Chinese people do not know of the Apollo 11 project.
The New York Times broke all former precedents by using the largest type ever displayed in the streamers — or banners — across the front page. The type was even larger than the Times possessed, so the banner was set in the largest type in the shop and then photographed and enlarged. And it says, “Man Walks on the Moon.” That is the story of the ages. Man did walk on the moon and the terrain was not as dangerous or deceptive as expected. You could see the surface perfectly in the pictures, you could see the craters. These were described in detail.
Yes, the moon was once foreign, cold and forbidding, but no longer. It is well known to the people of the earth, and the secrets which have been fiction until now are no longer as the astronauts are bringing back rocks and soil samples, materials needed for further knowledge of this planet. This is only the beginning. You do not dare to wager a guess as to what man will know or where he will go before the end of the century.
This is a wonderful and exciting age in which we live. And those who are risking their lives to discover the wonders of the universe are men with faith in God and their faith shows in many words and deeds. They are brave beyond comprehension and confident because of their training and knowledge.
As time moves on, we will realize how much we owe the astronauts of today. Years from now, the feats of today may only be the path-blazers for greater triumphs of tomorrow.
As of the present, you have witnessed the greatest event in modern history. And as has been said before, there is nothing with which to compare the first landing of a man on the moon.
Now the next excitement, the one where there is greatest danger, is in the return of the Eagle to the Columbia; a feat which has never been practiced before. But if all goes as well as has the schedule to date, there will only be rejoicing.