Monday, July 20, 2009

I Wonder How Michael Collins Feels Today

In the exactly 40 years since the Apollo 11 lunar landing, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first two earth creatures to set foot on the moon, have become household names. (For years, Aldrin was definitely the lesser known of the two, but he gained notoriety in 2002 when he punched moon-landing-hoax conspiracy theorist Bart Sibrel outside of a Beverly Hills hotel.) But there was a third member of the Apollo 11 crew. His name was Michael Collins. And he didn't get to walk on the moon. Collins orbited the moon in the command module while his more famous crew-mates planted flags, took pictures, and bounced around on the surface. I always wonder if Collins feels any animosity toward Armstrong or Aldrin or any other astronaut who stepped foot on the moon during a subsequent mission. I wonder if he cringes every time he hears someone on the news say, "Forty years ago today, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin famously became the first men to set foot on the moon. Maybe he holds no grudges, but to me Collins' trip to the moon seems like the NASA equivalent of driving to the Grand Canyon then having to sit in the parking lot while the rest of the family enjoys the view from Lipan Point.

At any rate, happy 40th anniversary Michael Collins.


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