Happy Birthday Buzz Aldrin 87
The 1960's were a heck of a ride, there were high-profile political assassinations, the Viet Nam War, 'hippies' and the so-called counter culture springing up all over the place.
The Rolling Stones hired a motorcycle gang as 'security' for a concert in California that produced a riot and deaths, the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago produced riots, there were race riots in California and cities in the South. It seemed the country was being ripped apart at the seams that had always held it together.
As a kid growing up this was all on the evening news every day in living color. But during the 60's there was one cool and magnificent thing that every American looked to and was proud of: our space program; NASA. Our race to the moon to beat the Russians in a sort a non-shooting war.
The Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs each had different goals to cover, all related to getting American footprints into the fine powdery ashy surface of the moon First. As a child it was great entertainment on TV and a cheerful distraction for all Americans and something everyone cheered for each time a rocket went up. Everyone agreed they were heroes and cheered on the Astronauts.
I didn't fully understand all the danger the Astronauts faced. I mean our cars didn't even have FM radios - and computers weren't anything to brag on either. Every minute calculation was done by brilliant ground support and engineers by pencil and paper with slide rules and erasers.
There was one constant - the men in those days that rode the gantry elevator up to the capsules and squeezed in were the gutsiest of the gutsy. I remember the first time as an adult I looked at a Mercury capsule in person and thought to myself: 'there's no way in Hades I'd squeeze into that thing' and then let somebody light a combination of 5,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and hydrogen underneath me?
Pay a visit sometimes to an air and space museum that has space stuff, take a good look at the space capsules and decide whether you'd have locked yourself in for a ride into the great void.
No, these guys had you-know-what's bigger than watermelons.
They had the Right Stuff.
Today is Buzz Aldrin's 87th birthday. He was 39 years old when he climbed down the rickety ladder of the LEM (lunar excursion module) a flimsy construction of basically a pipe-frame phone booth covered in tin foil with one rocket engine under it, and became the second Man to walk on the moon. When I was 39 I wouldn't have done anything so foolish.
There's something about having the Right Stuff you always have it, it's in You.
Now for the fun part of the story - a few years ago Buzz was accosted on the streets by a much younger and larger 'Moon Hoaxer' who wanted Buzz to admit the moon landings and space program were all a hoax. The man heckled and bothered Buzz to the point were a sudden right cross made the bothersome boor see stars! Here's a link to the video.
I hope you get as much kick out of this as I do. Happy Birthday Buzz!