When we were there

Published 10:43 pm Saturday, July 18, 2009

It was bigger than the Super Bowl; bigger than the Academy Awards. In fact, it was bigger than any television event in history.

Monday marks the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11’s landing on the moon.

More than 500 million people worldwide watched live as American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took the first steps on the moon, and planted the American flag into the lunar surface.

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People regardless of race, age or gender took time on July 20, 1969 to watch.

Tate Taylor was just a child when the Apollo 11 mission went to the moon.

“It was a big event,” Taylor said. “There were no commercials. And that was one of the first times they did that. It was cool.”

Taylor said he remembered watching the astronauts, and thinking how they looked like they were in slow motion.

“It was really cool to watch,” Taylor said. He said he remembered his teachers talking about the telecast when school was back in session.

Randy Adams was a teenager when Armstrong and Aldrin took those infamous first steps and the saying that has come to epitomize the landing.

“I remember Armstrong saying “That was one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,’” Adams said.

The landings also inspired Adams by what NASA was able to accomplish.

“That was one of the best things that NASA ever did,” he said. “To get there and get all the way back. It was a really important accomplishment for us as citizens of the United States because we did something great that day.”

Kay Dudley was in Florida with her husband and small children when the Apollo 11 mission took off.

“We were with some friends and we had three, four couples and lots of little kids and we all sat in the living room and watched that together,” Dudley said.

As she watched, Dudley said she could not help but think of how another set of spectators must have felt a few decades earlier.

“It was very chilling. It was very chilling to watch the whole process to even see the rocket go up,” Dudley said. “It was so surreal. It was like, can this really be happening? I guess it was kind of like with Wright brothers when they actually flew, what people watching that must have been thinking. It was really exciting and it was just an amazing time to watch.”