Saturday, July 18, 2009

And that is the way it was...

I was a six year old kid, forty years ago this week, glued to a black and white television set as Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins headed to their rendezvous with the Moon and history. They were my heroes, the Apollo astronauts, I knew every experimental payload they would leave on the moon, every excursion that was planned, the pitch/roll/yaw of the spacecraft, the alphabet soup of NASA acronyms.

We only got two channels back then, and we almost exclusively watched the CBS affiliate. CBS news carried live coverage of the flight, narrated by two historic figures in their own right, both coincidentally named Walter: One was astronaut Wally Schirra, the only astronaut to fly in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. The other was Walter Cronkite. Cronkite was a towering figure - journalist, war correspondent, Morrow Boy, host of television programs like "You Are There", and the greatest news anchor in television history. His was voiced we listened to every night through the turbulence of the Sixties and Seventies, his soft Missouri accent carrying both authority and reassurance.

Good night, Walter Cronkite.

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