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Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11

20 Jul, 2009 By: John Latchem

Apollo 11

It seems everyone is coming out of the woodwork with special Apollo 11 40th anniversary tributes, so why should I be any different?

I wasn’t yet born when Eagle touched down in the Sea of Tranquility July 20, 1969, but I have always been mesmerized by stories of the space program. Today, NASA in the 1960s seems like the perfect embodiment of the age, demonstrating a national solidarity amid an era of often overwhelming turmoil. In one decade, science-fiction became science fact.

But in its day, the race to the moon must have seemed like an impossible goal, resting on technologies and systems that had to be invented from scratch. John F. Kennedy’s twin speeches laying out the race to the moon — first to Congress, and later to a crowd at Rice University — to me rank up there among the most inspirational testaments to humanity’s desire to better itself, if only through a better understanding of its place in the cosmos, and to achieve the unachievable.

There are no shortages of home entertainment programming to celebrate the feat. Personally, I plan to pop in my DVDs of HBO’s From the Earth to the Moon. The dramatic re-creation of the moon landing takes place in episode six, “Mare Tranquilitatis.”

The segment was co-written by Al Reinart, who in 1989 had chronicled the journey of the Apollo program to the moon in his excellent documentary For All Mankind, which was recently re-released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. (Read our review here).

Other recent and upcoming documentaries celebrating the moon landing include Image’s Moon Machines (DVD $24.98); Acorn’s Apollo 11: A Night to Remember (DVD $24.99), highlighting BBC coverage of the event; Mill Creek’s Journey to the Moon: The 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 (DVD $14.98); and Jeffrey Roth’s The Wonder of It All (DVD $24.99; Blu-ray $29.99), due Sept. 15 from Indican.

Of course, there was perhaps no journalist more closely identified with the space program than Walter Cronkite, who passed away last week at age 92. Cronkite’s iconic coverage of the Apollo program is memorialized in Timeless Media Group’s Man on the Moon With Walter Cronkite, on Blu-ray Aug. 4 at $19.98. A DVD version was released earlier this year.

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