Like many youngsters of the 1960s, I was fascinated by anything related to the exploration of outer space. Many a youthful night was spent gazing at the stars and dreaming of the possibilities. I remember vividly President Kennedy's 1961 speech challenging the United States to land a man on the moon and to safely return him to earth. I watched the launch of every project Mercury astronaut beginning with Alan Shepard in 1961 and ending with Gordo Cooper in the spring of 1963.
The anticipation built again in early 1965 when NASA began project Gemini. Over the course of the next twenty months, man returned to space ten times accomplishing feats barley dreamed of in the early 1960s. Can you imagine the thrill astronaut Ed White experienced when he open the capsule door in June of 1965 and became the first human to float into the vastness of outer space!
Finally on July 20th 1969, man reached the surface of the moon and in a sense, the dream ended as the mission was accomplished. Unfortunately, I missed the live television coverage of the historic landing and walk; at the time I was camping with the Boy Scouts in the wilds of northern Idaho. By the end of 1972, man returned to the moon six more times but no visit was more exciting than the first!
I began college in the fall of 1972 and left the dream of outer space behind; instead I choose to pursue a career in forestry. Trust me, that's about a far from the moon as it gets. Like all good dreams, the story doesn't end there. In the fall of 1985, I visited the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. While there, I stood before a capsule from project Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo and for a moment, I was able to relive the dream!