We all sat mesmerized by the shadows appearing on our black & white television. Finally, Neil Armstrong proclaimed “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” on July 20, 1969. I was 9 years old at the time and it influenced me for the future- it was a giant leap in my imagination.
I grew up in a small town called Baie Comeau, QC. It is located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River past Quebec by a long 6 hour ride. My mother had a elementary education and dad had an accounting degree. The concept that a man could be on the moon was nothing short of a miracle for them. For this momentous event we all prepared in front of the TV to see history being made.
We ordered cheese pizza from a newly opened outlet. It was the first pizza place in the town was a novelty. It was fitting to try pizza for the first time while seeing man walk on the moon for the first time? Why not.
There it was… the shadowy impression of Neil Armstrong stepping from the LEM onto the moons surface. He said his famous words! Dad had to translate for Mum as she could not speak English only French.
To my surprise, she burst out crying. Not because of the significance of the event or the achievement it represented. She cried because she thought the moon was surely to come crashing down onto the earth! She couldn’t conceive the science that allowed mankind to reach for the nearest heavenly body.
It sparked in me a thirst for science. I followed all the Apollo programs. A developed a zeal for science and read all I could in the school library. When I came across biochemistry – the chemistry of life – I was fascinated. I continued my studies and completed a BSc in biochemistry and a PhD in chemistry.
As a footnote, my Sweetheart, to this day, is really bummed out because Neil was supposed to walk on July 21 – the day of her birthday – but they moved the schedule up.
The landing on the moon was an time of optimism a midst a age of Cold War tension. We felt that everything was in our collective reach if we work together towards a vision. I am grateful for people like Neil Armstrong who inspired a generation of new scientists.