Where Were You When Neil Armstrong Walked on the Moon?

The idea of witnessing history in the making is not what it used to be at the time of the moon landing on July 20, 1969.

It was 42 years ago today, July 20, 1969, that the world watched in awe as NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. Right behind him was Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin Jr., a native of Essex County (Montclair to be exact).

What Armstrong said—“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”—is one of the most memorable quotes in U.S. history.

As Armstrong placed the American flag on the moon in the Sea of Tranquility, a NASA employee back in Houston said, “I guess you are the only person around that doesn’t have TV coverage of the scene.”

Although not as memorable, this comment is telling of how important and unifying the moon landing was to Americans. And how everyone watched it the same way—on television.

Fast-forward to 2011, when on Thursday, July 21, the space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to return to Earth, marking the end of the 30-year space shuttle program.

Will you tune in to watch it live? Will you make your children sit in front of the tube and stress to them the significance of this historic moment?

With all the technology that has become ubiquitous in our society, probably not.

The idea of “Where Were You When” is not what it used to be at the time of the moon landing. If you can’t catch an event as it happens live, you know you can set your DVR to record it. Or if you missed a news story as it broke, you could always look for it on a news website, or more likely stream it from You Tube—and you can do that on your PC, laptop, smart phone, iPad or netbook.

In 42 years, will you remember watching the Atlantis return to Earth? Maybe, maybe not.

But the question may not be, “Where were you when?” but “How were you watching then?”


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