From the rebroadcast. Neil Armstrong on the surface of the moon.

From the rebroadcast. Neil Armstrong on the surface of the moon.

Fifty years after the Apollo 11 moon landing it is still thrilling to hear Neil Armstrong say, “That’s one small step for (a) man and one giant leap for mankind.”

The National Park Service held a viewing moon landing party tonight at the Wright Brothers Memorial commemorating Armstrong’s small step onto the surface of the moon. On a large screen, with a (thankfully) cooling breeze blowing, Walter Cronkite’s broadcast of the moon landing was shown.

Even 50 years later, with the outcome known, the tension seems palpable as the lunar nodule nears the surface. Even now, 50 years after the event, there is a surge of pride when Armstrong’s foot touches the surface of the moon and the words “Armstrong on Moon” flashed on the screen, the people in the viewing moon landing party cheered. The moon landing party was definitely a success!

Moon Landing Party and the Emotional Impact

The 1969 impact could be seen, as astronaut and commentator with Cronkite, Wally Schirra wiped tears from his eyes. The normally unflappable Cronkite, removed his glasses and he too seemed to be having a hard time keeping his emotions in check.

For many of the people gathered on the lawn beside the visitor’s center at the Wright Brothers Monument, it was a reminder of an extraordinary moment in the history of this nation and humanity. For others, too young to have witnessed the event, it was a moment to feel the thrill of history as it unfolded.

Before the viewing, there was a presentation by a number of speakers recounting the significance of Apollo 11.

Southern Shores Town Manager Peter Rascoe told tales of being on the Outer Banks in 1969 and what it was like to witness the landing.

NASA Astronaut Eric Boe who piloted the Endeavour and Discovery talked about space flight and took some great questions from the audience, most of them from children.

The (a) in the famous Armstrong quote is from NASA. In the rebroadcast and at the time, the belief was he said, “That’s one small step for man…” Armstrong insisted he said “a man.”

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