A small step, a giant leap; remembering the moon landing

The words will be etched forever in history.

"One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind."

If you were alive when those words were spoken, you remember exactly where you were. It's a moment frozen in time; a feat accomplished 50 years ago Saturday.

Our country is celebrating this week the moon landing. It was a moment of unity in our country, an event that sparked our interest and imaginations. Here is the text of a Southeast Missourian editorial that ran on July 21, 1969, the day after the moon landing:

A day to remember

Man has walked on the moon.

The feat beggars description.

Those who stayed up to see this amazing display of courage -- and who didn't? -- were awed by it all.

Two men in an alien environment, prepared against it by thousands of other men, proved that the human animal can exist in other than the Earth's atmosphere.

As millions around the world watched -- predictably the Russians and Red Chinese were about the only ones who could not -- they went about their tasks.

This was the forerunner of space conquests to come. There are to be other lunar landings in the Apollo program, each expanding on this one and adding to man's knowledge in his step by step advancement to the stars and other planets.

The talk now is of Mars, the red planet, where scientists believes forms of life exist, unlike on the moon which is completely hostile to living organisms.

In these, however, thrilling as they may be, they cannot match for sheer drama the heart-skipping moments of Eagle's landing on the Moon and then, finally, Neil Armstrong's first tentative step on its surface.

In Cape Girardeau and around this Earth of ours the tension mounted as the lunar module approached for its landing in the Sea of Tranquility.

The matter of fact voices of Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin betrayed no hint of emotion as the former, in the final moments took over control and flew the long-legged vehicle to its landing.

It was a supreme moment for all men. It was an ecstatic one for Americans who, challenged by the Russians with Sputnik and a series of space failures, finally emerged as leader in the long race for the cosmos.

The incredible television pictures of the two men working on the Moon's surface -- you had to keep reminding yourself this was like real, man, like real, not a science fiction movie -- were in themselves beyond the imagination.

A thousand years from now, so long as man exists, these pictures will be shown to succeeding generations. They were living history that will live forever.

It was a day to remember.

Who can ever forget it?