The Moon Man Cometh

The Moon Man Cometh

The Moon Man Cometh

Bonnie Godas

The Texas Book Festival in Austin is a veritable literary rodeo and brings crowds every year hoping to lasso a conversation with some of the eminent authors in attendance and maybe corral a couple good books for the road. Located at the base of the State Capital Building, it is the showcase for hundreds of authors and publishers as well as a wide variety of booksellers and local companies.

One of the authors at the festival was a man that most of us are very familiar with: Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, one of the first men to walk on the moon. His newest book, The Magnificent Desolation, a title referencing his first impression of standing on the lunar surface. Interviewed by Edwin Smith, Editor in Chief of the Texas Tribune, Mr. Aldrin spoke in front of a packed crowd at the Paramount Theater and graciously enlightened, amused and humbled those in attendance with the story of his life before, during and after walking on the moon and to celebrate the 40th anniversary of this memorable event.

Being picked as the primary crew for Apollo 11 that included Mike Collins and Neil Armstrong was not an impulsive decision from NASA. Mr. Aldrin was already a seasoned pilot, had a stellar career in the Air Force, and was a brilliant scientist who couldn’t be more prepared or thrilled that NASA picked him for the mission. It was a dream that John F. Kennedy had, to put a man on the moon, and on July 20, 1969 it finally happened. Many of us who had the privilege to see it will never forget that day.

In telling the story of the landing, Mr. Aldrin showed a lighter side of a his normally serious exterior, recalling an anecdote about making sure he would leave the hatch partially open so he would not lock himself out (there was no handle on the outside) and missing a step while trying to jump onto the steps of the hatch displayed. After Apollo 11, Mr. Aldrin returned to the Air Force but no longer felt a connection or reason to be there. The landing on the moon had made him the poster boy and promotional tool for NASA. As a result, Aldrin gradually went down a steep hill of severe depression and alcoholism that eventually bottomed out at lowest point in his life.

But as debilitating and difficult it was for him to combat these diseases, Mr. Aldrin came back with a vengeance and after 31 years is doing wonderful things. He is a role model for both his accomplishments in the space program and who has successfully combated his battle with alcoholism and depression. He is a big advocate of the Space program but says we need to rally for more support and government aid. He also claims that the next step should be Mars and of course as a mathematical genius Aldrin has numerically figured out as to when that will be; The Wright Brothers flew in 1903, Man Walked on the Moon in 1969 and Man will go to Mars in 2035. That’s 66 years apart.

And hopefully I’ll be around to see it.