Morningside Moonwalk: Celebrating 50 Years Since the 1969 Moon Landing

Jul 20, 2019

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 1969, we asked the Morningside College community to share their memories and thoughts of the event. As a small step for man and a giant leap for mankind, Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk profoundly affected the country. This can be plainly seen through our very own testimonials:


Char Jorgenson, management information system coordinator for admissions

I couldn't believe that this was truly happening and remember the feeling of pride for our country. I will always remember Neil Armstrong’s words "One small step for man - one giant leap for mankind.” It made me look differently at the moon.


Liz Sheka, director of Project Siouxland

Growing up in Cedar Rapids, the home of Collins Radio (now Collins Aerospace), the importance of my hometown to space exploration is one of extreme pride. When the world heard Armstrong's famous words from the surface, they were transmitted on communications systems developed at Collins; in fact, Collins was responsible for communications on Apollo, Mercury, and Gemini missions. My dad was the supervisor of the test equipment division at Collins, meaning that his department tested the prototypes of the equipment used on the missions. My dad will turn 90 on the anniversary of the splashdown. The vision of Arthur Collins is legendary, and for my dad – who grew up on a farm – to play a small part in such a phenomenal historical event is indicative of a time when a large number of people simply did their part to launch a nation into a moment of unsurpassed pride.


Brenda Woodbury, payroll and administrative coordinator

I was 6 when the moon landing occurred but I recall snippets in my memory. All in black and white.


Dave Madsen, assistant professor and department head for mass communication

As a Boy Scout of 15 years old, I was attending the Boy Scout National Jamboree in Farragut State Park, Idaho. On his way to becoming the first man on the moon, Eagle Scout Neil Armstrong gave a shout out to the 34,000+ of us attending that jamboree: “Hello to all my fellow Scouts at Farragut State Park in Idaho . . . Apollo 11 would like to send them best wishes.” Then, although we didn’t have a way to watch the moon landing live, a film was made of the landing and shown to us on the closing night of the jamboree (July 22). It was so cool to see Armstrong make that first walk on a HUGE movie screen set up outside for thousands of Boy Scouts to watch. Kind of like a drive-in theater, but with no cars!


Michelle Laughlin, associate dean for online learning

I was 4 years old, living here in Sioux City, watching the moon landing on a black-and-white TV with my parents. It was a clear night outside and the moon was fairly full, so we went outside to look at it. I pointed up to the moon and proclaimed loudly, “I can see them walking on the moon!”


Steve Gates, professor and department head for graduate education

Mom, Dad, my sister Julie, brother Rick and I were all in the small living room of our old farmhouse to watch the broadcast. It was strange at first because the major stations had worked with NASA to set up a simulated scene of the moon’s surface in some sort of a studio to capture what they thought it would look like while they broadcast the live audio from Houston and Apollo 11. They would switch back and forth from the control room in Houston to the simulated moon scene. Even though we knew the moon scene image was simulated, listening to the real live audio between the command control in Houston and Neil Armstrong from Apollo 11 was very powerful. A few minutes later, the audio indicated Armstrong was about to open the door and descend to the moon. And then it happened. All of sudden the image got a little fuzzy and a new scene appeared. I remember Cronkite saying something to the effect: “This is live from the moon with Apollo 11.” We could make out the image of the moon’s surface and the cloudy image of the Eagle landing craft. And there was a man on its side stepping down.  I remember how incredibly quiet we all were. I saw my parents just shaking their heads, speechless. And then we heard Armstrong speak the first words from the moon, “That’s one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind.” My Dad, who was not averse to curse words, finally said, “Well I’ll be go to hell.” We just kept watching unable to say much, as there was nothing else – ever – to compare it to. We continued watching together for a while. Then I remember going outside to the yard and looking at the moon through a pair of folding binoculars for kids you could fit in your pocket. I knew it was foolish to look and try to see Apollo 11, but I didn’t want to take a chance if I was wrong. After the moon landing, I saw my grandparents a few days later at their modest home in rural Belle Plaine. She was born in 1896, had moved to Iowa County as a child from Minnesota in a wagon with her family, and had watched the broadcast, too. When I asked her about it, she said three things I still remember. “How on earth did they do that? What do you suppose they’re gonna do up there?”  And finally she just looked at me and said, “Steve, I thought I had seen everything.”