“Astronaughts on TV” was the description in my diary that I kept with me on my trip back home from Israel. I had left Haifa on July 14th, taking a car ferry to Athens, where I was beginning a road trip through Europe. I had just finished a 15 month stay in Jerusalem, having been part of a team that started the first TV station in Israel. It was my first trip out of the US, and it was July 21st, 1969, a week into my adventure, when I found myself in Thessaloniki, in Greece. The city was beautiful, and it reminded me of Haifa. Every place I went was new and exciting. I was not feeling so much like an American abroad, but rather like a world adventurer. During my time in Israel the news from the United States was sad, and frightening. First it was the Bobby Kennedy assassination, followed by the Martin Luther King shooting, then race riots, the Viet Nam war protests, and last but not least, Richard Nixon sworn in as president. I was truly torn about whether I wanted to go home to a country that seemed to me, on the verge of revolution. At that time I was so immersed in my own life, that I really gave little oxygen to what was going on in the U.S. I didn’t keep up with the news of the day. Occasionally I’d get a copy of the International Herald Tribune, but I was mostly in the dark about day to day events.I didn’t know about Woodstock till after I got home. On this day, the 21st of July, I was jolted into recognizing a special day for the world, its humanity, and especially for the United States. As I was walking in town searching for a restaurant, there was a large crowd standing in front of a store window. It was an electronics store, and the window was filled with TV sets, all tuned to the Apollo 11 mission. I stood in the crowd watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon. My heart swelled with wonder and pride at the accomplishment the U.S. had made to fulfill the promise made by John Kennedy. After two years of disheartening events, the United States had something good to be be proud of. After watching for awhile, I resumed my search for a restaurant, and making a plan to begin the drive to the Dalmation coast. I didn’t spend much time that summer trying to process the accomplishment and the bravery of what the U.S. had achieved by landing a person on the moon. It was only years later that I came to appreciate the enormity of the achievement. To me, at the time, the moon landing was just a little blip on my own adventure as a young 24 year old man, getting to know his own planet earth, and the people of other countries and cultures.
My heart swelled with wonder and pride at the accomplishment the U.S. had made to fulfill the promise made by John Kennedy. The store window was filled with TV sets, all tuned to the Apollo 11 mission.