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Quiet and unassuming, Neil Armstrong might as well have been stopping his car on the beach of Grand Lake St. Mary’s in Auglaize County, Ohio, on July 20, 1969, rather than landing Apollo 11 on the moon.
But to the world it was a feat that had until that moment had only been dreamt of. The Apollo 11 crew, made up of Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, circled earth several times in the command module Columbia checking all systems before heading to the moon. Upon arrival, Aldrin and Armstrong entered the lunar excursion module (LEM), Eagle. Collins continued to orbit the moon while the other two headed to the moon’s surface. A sigh of relief was heard around the world when they heard “The Eagle has landed.”
Armstrong descended the LEM’s ladder. As he stepped onto the moon’s surface, he stated, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The United States had bested the Soviet Union in the race to the moon and fulfilled President Kennedy’s challenge to do so before the end of the decade.
The Apollo 11 crew had completed the greatest journey in human history, putting men on the moon and setting the course for the future of the nation’s space program. From Armstrong’s hometown of Wapakoneta, across the United States, and around the world, people wanted to honor their feat.