“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
At about 11 p.m. on July 20, 1969, those monumental words spoken by astronaut Neil Armstrong reverberated through televisions and radios throughout the world as Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, two of Apollo 11’s three prime crew members, became the first human beings to set foot on the moon.
Millions all over the world tuned in to watch the lunar landing in real-time, and in the years since Apollo 11 touched down on the moon’s surface, billions have been inspired by the monumental mission of exploration.
FORSYTH REMEMBERS: Lunar Landing Memories event
- When: 2-4 p.m., Saturday, July 20
- Where Sharon Forks Library, 2820 Old Atlanta Road, Cumming
- More Information: Visit www.forsythpl.org or call Sharon Forks at 770-781-9840
This Saturday will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing and in Forsyth County, the Forsyth County Public Library system will be celebrating the milestone with a never-before-seen look at what local residents witnessed and experienced on that day.
According to Joan Dudzinski, Information Services Supervisor at the Cumming Library, over the past two months the library system has been collecting dozens of interviews with local residents on their experiences during the Lunar Landing for a brand new local oral history project called “Forsyth Remembers.”
"We thought that this would be a great way to engage the community and collect some of the stories within the community," Dudzinski said. "Most people remember where they were, and we thought that this would make for a nice first attempt at the oral histories, as well as a rather exciting one."
Dudzinski said that local residents were asked where they were, what they remembered feeling watching or hearing the coverage and whether they ever had thought the landing would be possible.
What residents told them was a stream of first-person accounts that will be soon archived, transcribed and kept as a historical record so that future generations can look back and see what people experienced at the time – stories that Dudzinski said can’t be found anywhere else and might otherwise be lost.
"These are stories that may not be heard except through close relatives or acquaintances," she said. “Nothing like this had ever happened before. It's allowing some of those remembrances to be shared with future generations."
In the interviews, some residents talked about watching Walter Cronkite and other newscasters’ broadcast of the landing and about the excitement that built up everywhere leading to the landing.
"It was all over the news, it was big time and kind of everybody seemed to be watching for it with baited breath," a local resident named Don said in his interview.
Others spoke about seeing events play out in real life after Armstrong, Aldrin and astronaut Michael Collins returned to earth on July 24, 1969.
"I don't have specific memories of watching the landing of Apollo 11, what I do remember is the command module came down in the Pacific Ocean,” a woman named Mary said in her interview. “So we went out to Pearl Harbor and Nixon was there; we saw Nixon and we saw the guys waving.”
Dudzinski said that the full project will be unveiled to the public on Saturday at the Sharon Forks Library, featuring a selection of the recorded interviews and two speakers from the field of aerospace, NASA Solar System Ambassador Curt Godwin and Executive Director of the Georgia Space Alliance Laura Forczyk.
“We're really excited,” Dudzinski said. “We tied it all in to land on the day of the anniversary, and it worked out well."
After the event, sometime in the fall, the oral histories and their transcripts will be available on the library system’s website, as well as at each library.
She said that they are going to let the project continue to grow even after the program on Saturday, probably through the end of the year, and sometime in 2020 they will announce their next oral history project which might cover other local topics like the creation of Lake Lanier.
If anyone is interested in sharing their memories from the Apollo 11 landing, Dudzinski said to contact any local library branch and library staff can help set up an interview.
"Every generation has a different focus and there's a lot to be learned from the past,” Dudzinski said. “We often learn from it but we also often forget it, so it's good to hear these stories."