Itook it all for granted back then. Born in 1961 just two months after the Apollo Program was announced, I grew up right smack in the middle of the Rocket City (aka Huntsville, Ala.) — the epicenter of mankind’s biggest dream. The Space Program and our country’s quest for the moon literally unfolded all throughout my childhood.
My dad Frank Lively, his brother Buddy Lively and my aunt Mimi Lively all worked for NASA on the Apollo program led by Dr. Wernher von Braun. Often, dad would come home from work and show me full-color renderings of the Saturn V Rocket and later of our future moon base with illustrations of living accommodations, laboratories and agricultural facilities. It was cool for sure, but it was just my dad’s work.
We became accustom to huge, intermittent BOOMs that would literally shake all of Huntsville and just about throw us off of our banana seat bikes! Our house and our windows would literally rattle. “Oh! They’re testing the rocket,” my mom would say and we’d go back to whatever it was we were doing.
Today, it’s just awe-inspiring to think of what these people accomplished — people in my family, my Valley Farm neighbor Fred Johnson and people from all over the country. They came together for one huge out-of-this-world goal. They invested their ingenuity, drive, courage and passion into that quest and by God they pulled it off.
Apollo 11’s lunar module, the Eagle, landed on the moon on the Sea of Tranquility at 0 degrees, 41 minutes, 15 seconds north latitude and 23 degrees, 26 minutes east longitude on July 20, 1969 at 4:17 p.m. EST with only 30 seconds of fuel remaining.