Forty years ago on July 20, 1969 I remember sitting in the livingroom as a twelve year old staring at the television. I was glued to it and I could feel my heart thumping inside of me as I watched the lunar module close in on the moon and then finally land on the moon’s surface. I remember my dad hooting and hollering and even though I was just a kid, I felt a huge sense of pride to be an American. I still remember those famous words uttered by Neil Armstrong as he stepped foot on the moon and declared “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” What a tremendous thrill and memory to have personally witnessed that fabulous feat as I sat in front of our Zenith console many years ago.

 

        I can remember asking my mom for money to buy a newspaper on a stand that was outside the local thoroughfare supermarket. The giant sized bold headline shouted  MAN ON MOON!  and I bought that paper and kept it for many years. When I was a college student, I took the care and time to frame that front page and hung it in all of our homes that we have raised our own children in.

 

        This week I have seen interviews with Buzz Aldrin, one of two other astronauts who were with Neil Armstrong on that famous mission and was the only other astronaut to walk on the moon’s surface. He has been speaking of the incredible pride and emotion that he experienced on that flight. He told of the glance that he and Armstrong shared once the engine of the aircraft shut off after they had landed. He spoke of the enormous pride that swelled within him as he saluted our American flag that they flew on the surface of the moon. He spoke of how the control center back home was faced with nail biting tension as the lunar module actually had less than seventeen seconds of fuel left when it landed. I was so captured by this interview as he went on to discuss the many details and highs and lows of the mission. Listening to him also brought back just so many memories of my dad who was a pilot in World War II and how joyous he was when we reached the moon. I remember listening to Walter Cronkite who was such a staunch supporter of our space program, proudly reporting about the Apollo 11 mission. I have also been thinking how sad and ironic it is that Mr. Cronkite died this same week of the fortieth anniversary of our landing on the moon.

 

        What was more sad to me however is that I was talking with a young man in his early twenties this week as well and mentioned to him that Walter Cronkite had died. His response was “ Who is Walter Cronkite?” I realized that Cronkite was already nearing seventy years old before this young man was even born so I did not fault him at all for not knowing who he was, but the rest of the conversation that followed absolutely floored me. I replied that Walter Cronkite was one of our most distinguished and trusted news reporters and news anchor men in the history of our country. I also added how ironic it was that he died on the same week as the historic landing of Apollo 11 on the moon because of the fact that he was such a strong advocate and supporter of our space program. When I said this, this young man casually answered back to me that he thought that the moon landing was a hoax, that he had heard and read much information that suggested it was a fraud and a staged event either in some sound studio or perhaps some desolate stretch of desert somewhere. He then went on to report the supposed facts behind this theory including details of the flapping of the flag as they staked it into the moon’s surface, and the fact that there were no stars in the background. I sat there open mouthed and stunned , not really knowing how or what to respond. I basically said nothing other than he was completely crazy, but inwardly thought to myself how sad it is that this generation questions the truth of such a worthy and great accomplishment.

 

        Later that evening however, I had a thought that arrested me.  I just couldn’t help thinking … Isn’t that just like human nature? If we have not experienced something for ourselves, we do not want to believe the truth of it. Unbelief and skepticism run rampant in our world.  If we have not personally seen it, touched it, heard it, then it very well may not have ever happened. How foolish and sad and yet it is also one of the reasons that so many folks will live out their lives here on earth never really believing, understanding or knowing the truth about God and their own purpose for being created in the first place.

 

        My conversation with that young man was most definitely a sobering one that gave me much to think about for the rest of that evening. I saw a film clip today which showed Buzz Aldrin as he unexpectedly found himself in the same room with one of the leading proponents of the hoax theory. I am not sure when this incident took place but it did not appear to be in the very recent past, but instead, some time ago. You may be wondering what he had to say to this fellow who was claiming that his historic mission in which he put his life on the line was nothing but a fraud. Well, he actually said nothing to him. He did however rear back and punch the guy right in the face. I am not condoning Buzz Aldrin’s actions that day, but I certainly understand the emotion behind his frustration. Any man who kisses his family goodbye, knowing that he may never see them again and is victorious in going to the moon, landing on it, walking on it, and then thankfully returns back to earth is a man who has done an extraordinary thing. To then be called a fraud and a fake years later by someone who has only sat on the sidelines just might have been something that was too much for him to endure on that particular day.

 

        Today marks an anniversary of a great and proud day for our nation. Congratulations to Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Mike Collins for making all of us so very proud forty years ago. You are strong, brave Americans. To those who so ignorantly and foolishly believe and repeat the hoax theory… shame on you. You have much to learn about courage, sacrifice, and honor. I hope that you will.

 

If not, all is still well for truth will stand as it always does.