Allie Spillyards

50th Anniversary of Moon Landing Brings Back Memories for North Texans

On July 20, 1969, Americans all around the country huddled around TV screens to watch as an American man became the first to step foot on the moon.

John Wagoner remembers it well, sitting on an Air Force base with his wife and newborn son.

"We sat down in front of our TV and Walter Cronkite who's famous for his delivery was there," said Wagoner.

He'd been interested in space since he was a young boy.

As part of the Astronomical League, Texas Astronomical Society along with a non-profit to introduce inner city kids to astronomy, Wagoner has traveled all over the world to view the universe through a telescope. Though throughout the years, he said no site has compared to the one he watched on TV 50 years ago.

"We saw that huge Saturn V rocket. It was the most powerful and still is and the tallest and still is. No one has ever matched it. It was sitting there and all of a sudden, it lit up like a candle and it just roared off that pad," said Wagoner.

He said they watched and prayed for four days waiting for Apollo 11 to land on the moon.

"We saw the ladder come down and we saw him step down and we saw his footprint in the dust of the moon, and of course his famous words, and we couldn't believe it. We put a man on the moon. Just like JFK said, we put a man on the moon," said Wagoner.

After nearly 400 years of astronomers like Wagoner viewing the moon through the lens of a telescope, one had finally stepped foot on it. He said it was enough to make him believe anything was possible. Though five decades later, he still believes it's a moment that space exploration has yet to top.

Today as he teaches future astronomers, Wagoner believes there are still lessons to be learned from what happened July 20, 1969.

"That accomplishment really calmed a lot of people down and let everyone know that with technology and science, we could do anything. Let's set aside our differences and find a goal we can achieve and achieve it," said Wagoner.

Though he's not sure he'll get to witness anything quite as incredible in his lifetime, he's hopeful the next generation will.

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