In 1961, John F. Kennedy delivered a speech to Congress in which he stated that America should commit “To achieve the goal, before this decade is over, of landing a man on the moon and bringing him safely back to earth.” This seemed a bit too ambitious, even considering how quick Kennedy was by the time. The Soviets appeared in space every other week, but the American space program was essentially about paying a really strong man to toss empty beer cans into the sky in the hopes that one of them would hit Sputnik. An American hadn’t even been in orbit yet, should they suddenly go to the moon?
And yet, against all odds, They did. In just eight years, NASA designed and built lunar landers, rockets, and spacesuits, almost from scratch. Whole landscapes were leveled to build test areas and launch ramps. over 400,000 people were enlisted to work on the program, which has more people working than the Pyramids or the Great Wall. The moon itself was so mysterious to scientists really worried that the entire lander sinks like quicksand directly into the moondust. Fortunately, the surface was firm enough to support Neil Armstrong’s small step in July 1969. It was one of the greatest achievements in human history.
The moon landing fascinated the whole world. Even on tiny boats in the middle of the sea, they were taped to the radio and poured out the champagne. The astronauts immediately became national heroes, which helped offset the brutal punishment of having multiple conversations with Richard Nixon. Of course, America’s newspapers got angry. The New York Times‘Headline was a series of all-caps F-bombs while the Chicago Tribune published a special 40-page insert containing just the word “America!” typed over and over again. The LA Times ran a front page that solemnly invited Leonid Brezhnev to “suck our giant moon pig” while the Miami Herald The staff all set their printing machines on fire and simply went into the sea to explain that the age of man had surely reached and ended.
At least that’s what we assume is exactly what happened, but there is no need to google those actual headlines, as the local newspaper in Neil Armstrong’s tiny hometown of Wapakoneta, Ohio, was undoubtedly the greatest coverage of the moon landing. While the rest of the world went mad about the scale of the achievements or the political and scientific implications, Wapakoneta Daily News just went with the delightfully perfect “Neil Steps On The Moon”.