Moon Landing

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By: 
Michelle Phillips

I was about two and a half years old when the Apollo 11 first landed on the moon 50 years ago, and Neil Armstrong declared the event, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” I have no recollection of that specific event, but I do remember other early moon missions. I remember watching the massive rockets take off from Cape Canaveral in Florida. I remember the marketing items that followed, particularly, moon boots. 

When reading about all the stories surrounding the anniversary of the moon landing, I came across a YouTube video of the other day called, “Buzz Aldrin Punches a Guy.” Well, I had to know what that was about, so I pulled up the video.  

In it, a filmmaker is harassing Aldrin about the moon landing being a hoax. He was in his face with a Bible, calling him a liar and yelling at him to swear on the Bible that he landed on the moon. 

Aldrin told the man to leave him alone and walked away several times. The man persisted and followed him. All of a sudden, Aldrin punched the guy in the face! This middle-aged, conspiracy theorist got clocked by an 89-year-old man. 

I am not one to promote violence, and I believe that there is always a better way to handle a situation. For some reason, though, this video was far less disturbing to me than I expected. Maybe it’s because of the way the guy was so relentless. It made me empathize with Aldrin because I somehow felt this whack job was not the first that had approached him on this topic.

Next, I watched a video of footage from the moon landing. Now this is footage I have seen dozens, if not hundreds, of times, but the difference this time was the comments on YouTube. At first, I laughed at all the comments about how the moon landing was fake, how it was fabricated in Hollywood and that the photos are enhanced. Then it made me sad to think that there are so many people who will scream that something is fake because it doesn’t fit in with the narrative they believe.

These videos got me thinking about two things: My relationship with the moon (we go way back) and conspiracy theorists. 

Let’s start with the moon. My earliest Halloween memory is not my costume, how much candy I got or a haunted house, but of a large, orange, harvest moon. I believe I wrote about it in a previous column about Halloween. I was so mesmerized by it that I didn’t even care about trick-or-treating. I remember my aunt pulling me along by the hand, but all I could see that night was the moon.

Later in life I wrote about the moon in short stories and poems on numerous occasions. One of my favorite movies is “Moonstruck.” I love it because of the way they are awestuck by the massive moon. Soon after I met my husband, his mom told me his first word was “moon.” So, I feel I have a connection to the moon, and the moon landing images just brought it’s craggy surface closer to my heart.

As far as conspiracy theories go, I am, as with everything else, skeptical of conspiracy theorists. I think in every conspiracy theory there is a bit of truth buried beneath the rhetoric, but it is usually minute. 

It is alarming that there are conspiracy theorists out there that might do others harm based on an idea that has no basis. Today with the Internet, people can go to social media sites or conspiracy theory sites and find others that agree with their thoughts, whatever they may be. In addition, Photoshop has made us second guess everything we see. In fact, one of the comments someone made on YouTube was as follows: “Wow look how bad the Photoshop job is in these photos, they’re so blurry.”  

I urge you all to get out and look at the moon, examine the craters, go to an observatory and watch the videos.  Embrace the moon for its control of the tides, it’s full moon fever and it romantic possibilities.  And whether you witnessed the moon landing live, or just watched videos, feel confident in knowing it was a real, historic moment that the country shared long before the Internet, when Neil Armstrong declared, “The Eagle has landed.”

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