- Oct. 9, 1928: N.Y. Yankees make history in baseball (10/9/12)
- Sept 11, 2001: The Day the Earth Stood Still (9/11/12)
- Sept. 4, 476 AD: The start of the difficult Dark Ages (9/5/12)
- Aug. 21, 1945: The end of a program that lent a big hand (8/21/12)
- Aug. 14, 1945: The day that truly ended World War II (8/14/12)
- July 17: A hotly contested win for Brazil --and for soccer (7/17/12)
- July 10: The day the Senate voted 'No'on a vital treaty (7/10/12)
July 24: The return of U.S.'s great space explorers
During the 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union were involved in the famous Space Race to see who would reach the moon first. Many people believed that this task was impossible. However, both sides believed it could be done.
The Apollo 11 Mission, commanded by astronaut Neil Armstrong, proved that this impossible mission was in fact possible and in the end made history. Two men landed on the moon and were safely returned to Earth on July 24, 1969.
Apollo 11 was NASA's fifth mission in the Apollo Program. President Kennedy had said eight years earlier that by the end of the decade (1960s), a man would be landed on the moon and returned safely to Earth. Unfortunately, he was not alive at the time this finally happened, but in the end it had been accomplished.
This mission first departed Earth from the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Fla., on July 16. After three days of travelling, the astronauts reached their long-awaited destination.
Neil Armstrong was the first person in the planet to set foot upon the moon. This event was viewed worldwide live, and as Armstrong made the first step on the moon, the words "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," will never be forgotten.
While on the moon, Armstrong and his crew would obtain the first rock samples from this place. In total, 50 rocks were brought back, which were considered samples of fine-grained "lunar soil."
Furthermore, many experiments included the detection of "moonquakes" and also provided information about the internal structure of the moon. Others included the precise measurement of the distance between the Earth and the moon.
Apollo 11's achievement officially ended the world's first Space Race, and the United States proved to be the dominant nation in space exploration. The return of Apollo 11 to Earth on July 24, 1969, also serves as proof that we can achieve anything we want.
While almost everyone believed there was no way the moon can be touched, they were proved wrong by Neil Armstrong and his perseverance. His companions and the whole NASA agency also deserve merit for such a triumph as well.
We should take this triumph and use it as an example to help motivate us that no matter how bleak the situation is, we can do anything we set our mind to. Reach for the moon, because in reality, it is not as far as it seems.
* * *
Why Today Matters is written by Berryville resident Angel Portillo. Portillo is an undergrad at University of Arkansas, seeking his bachelor's degree in History. His column appears on Tuesdays.