Forty years ago today, at 8:17 PM UTC, the lunar module Eagle touched down in the Sea of Tranquility. Just under eight years and two months after President Kennedy told America that while we could not rest certain of being first, any failure to attempt such an audacious and seemingly impossible feat would make us last, mankind stretched out to touch the stars.
There are many ways to try and put the Apollo anniversary in context. As the legacy of a great man lost before his time. As the height of the Cold War gap between east and west. As a supreme achievement of engineering and the human mind--indeed, it would be hard to overstate the scientific impact of the Apollo Program on every aspect of our daily lives today. The technologies developed and matured as a direct result of the Apollo missions range from the integrated circuits in the computer you're reading this on, to the mylar film in a child's balloon.
In truth, none of these things captures the deepest, underlying spirit that moved human beings on a voyage out from our tiny blue world across a quarter million miles.
Apollo signifies a repudiation of the idea that there are things we cannot do, problems we cannot solve, dreams we cannot fulfill. It is the glowing beacon in the great murky twilight reminding us that no matter what obstacles we may find, in the new world all our tomorrows are shaping, anything is possible.
That whenever we think we've reached the limits of what the human race is capable of achieving, we need only look up at the night sky to remind ourselves that if we have the will, our hopes may well be infinite.
Or as the quote in the title says: "From now on we live in a world where man has walked on the Moon. It's not a miracle... we just decided to go."