Monday Musings for 5.3.21
“Of the three Apollo 11 astronauts, only one . . . ” I pressed my buzzer. I knew the answer. Michael Collins was the only one of the three Apollo 11 astronauts who did not set foot on the moon.
It was a television program called “High-Q”, modeled after “College Bowl.” Kind of like “Jeopardy” but with easier questions. I was on the Madras High School team. I was the expert on space exploration. That had been my obsession since grade school. So I pressed my buzzer in the middle of the question. I confidently gave my answer: “Michael Collins.”
The host, Ben Padrow said, “That is correct. Of the three Apollo 11 astronauts, Michael Collins was the only one who was a civilian.” I didn’t know that. I got the right answer for the wrong reason.
That distant memory came back last week when I heard of Michael Collins’ death. He was 90. How could that be? Well, Apollo 11 was 52 years ago. That’s how.
It has been said that as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon and Michael Collins orbited the moon in the command module, no other human being since Adam had been so alone.
He wrote a memoir in 1974 called Carrying the Fire. I never read it, but I will now. He was the director of the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. That’s where you can see the Apollo 11 command module.
Michael Collins was a strong advocate of future space exploration. He said, “To go places and do things that have never been done before — that’s what living is all about.” He was also a strong advocate for environmental concerns. Earth Day was on April 22. It started when I was in high school. It seems it was a bigger deal back then than it is now. Here is Michael Collins’ Earth Day tweet:
I am certain, if everyone could see the Earth floating just outside their windows, every day would be Earth Day. There are few things more fragile or more beautiful than Earth. Let’s work together today and protect our home.