‘Apollo 11’ Details the 1969 Moon Landing

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By Theda Reichman

In 1961 President Kennedy committed the United States to land a man on the moon within the decade and then bring him safely back to earth. It has now been a half-century since the spacecraft “Apollo 11” left earth behind to fulfill Kennedy’s challenge. The date was July 6, 1969.

In his documentary “Apollo 11” filmmaker Todd Douglas Miller chronicles this earth-shattering event showing how scientists prepared for the historic flight to the moon.

We then watch as three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins suit up.  They board Apollo 11 and are launched into space. Traveling at 25,000 miles an hour they speed to their destination, the moon– 240,000 miles away.

From the vantage point of the astronauts, we look out into space and see our planet earth below, like a beautiful blue marble. As they orbit the moon, before landing, we view the moon’s powdery gray cratered surface.  Collins remains aboard the lunar orbiter as Armstrong and Aldrin prepare to land on the moon’s surface. Once the Eagle has landed, Armstrong opens the door and steps on the lunar surface saying,  “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

After leaving his footsteps on the face of the moon, Armstrong places an American flag in the moon’s soil. Data gathering equipment is set up.  Next soil and rock samples are gathered to take back to planet earth.  In the song, we speak of “the man in the moon,” but at this point, two men are standing on the moon. It’s a great accomplishment in world history.

 President Nixon acknowledged the astronauts said, “Our nation is one in our pride and one in our praise for what you have done.” For the first time in world history, man had left earth behind, leaving human footprints on the surface of the moon. 

Using recently discovered archival footage and audio from NASA, filmmaker Miller chronicles one of man’s greatest achievements. While we watch us feel as if we are a part of this grand adventure.  The film is rated G and is 93 minutes in length.

Hail and Farewell.  This past week we lost two beloved performers–Doris Day, followed by Tim Conway.  

Doris Day began her career as a big band singer in 1939.  One of her earliest hits was “Sentimental Journey” with Les Brown. She then went on to make 48 films, including “Calamity Jane,” “Pillow Talk” with Rock Hudson and “The Man Who Knew Too Much” with Jimmy Stewart. She retired from films at an early age and became an animal rights activist.  She left us on May 13, at age 97.  Cause of death was pneumonia.  

Tim Conway made us laugh for years. He appeared in films like “The Apple Dumpling Gang” with Don Knotts, but is best known for his TV work on “The Carol Burnett Show.” Tim was a wild and crazy guy who often cracked up co-star Harvey Korman during on-air skits. Even Carol had to keep from laughing when he did something totally unexpected. Tim had six children.  His son Tim Conway Jr. hosts a comedy talk show on KFI radio. Like his dad, he too can make us laugh. Tim passed away on Tuesday, May 14, at the age of 85.  He will be missed.