The 1969 walk on the moon by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin is one of the defining experiences of the Baby Boomer Nation.
To me, the first moonwalk was an event of great excitement. I remember watching it on our black-and-white television set. It was amazing that we could see and hear the astronauts. The technology we saw was so new and unlike anything we’d seen before. I felt so proud.
When Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite about the size of a beach ball, was launched on Oct. 4, 1957, by the Soviet Union, it was frightening. We were told the Soviets could now spy on us and would have military advantages with the satellite.
Newscasters and government officials decried how the Soviets had jumped ahead in the race for space. Americans were told they needed to change. For students, it meant more of an emphasis on math and science in school.
The U.S.-U.S.S.R space race was on.
On April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin become the first human to fly in space, when he made one orbit of the earth.
About a month later, President John F. Kennedy set the goal for Americans to be bold and send a man to the moon before the end of the decade. President Kennedy said in a May 25 speech:
The Kennedy administration wanted the world to see the U.S. as the world leader, to draw people to the U.S. and away from communist influence.
Like many people I was shocked that such a feat with so many unknowns was being talked about in such a short time frame.
When the U.S. landed men on the moon, we felt like a great nation again. It was a positive experience in the midst of the Cold War and following the assignations of President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr.
Landing men on the moon was an inspiration to baby boomers. It helped to fostered their goal-oriented, can-do spirit.
It also opened a new era of technology, which boomers embraced and continued to support as the Computer Age began and evolved.