Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Eagle Has Landed 9.9.1969

The anniversary of the First Man stepping on the Moon is another four days away, but, I want to tell you of my personal experience of this momentous event 40 years ago.
I fondly remember 20th of July 1969 when the greatest event in the History of Mankind took place 230,000 miles or thereabouts from the Earth – on the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility. I was then a Lieutenant serving on the mighty (at least we in the crew thought so) INS Kadmatt, at Vishakhapatnam (popularly known as Vizag) on the East Coast of India. That evening many of us were crowded round the radio in the Wardroom listening to the Voice of America (fortunately (sic), there was no TV in India then). The commentator from Cape Canaveral or wherever (!) was telling us in hushed tones about the Moon Lander which had separated from the capsule with Collins in it. From time to time we would get a live feed from Buzz Aldrin about the progress of the Lander. Neil Armstrong, I believe was busy in the mundane task of searching for a nice place to come down amongst the boulders on the Sea of Tranquility. Minutes ticked by and with bated breath we waited, and we waited and then we heard what sounded like, “The Eagle has landed”. The wardroom exploded in a chorus of ‘bravos’ or words to that effect. Man had made one more conquest. History had been made, and I was part of it!!!

An often asked question about the Apollo 11 First Day Covers....
Why does it have
two dates in the postmark: July 20 and Sept. 9, 1969?

This question had been dogging me for some time too. The clarification given down below came from a fellow friend of this blog who in turn got it from the US Postal Services.
· The master printing die for the Apollo 11 stamp was carried to and from the moon in July, 1969. When the printing die returned to earth it then it was used to make the printing plates for the postage stamps that were issued by the Post Office and used on these first day covers.
· These postage stamps were not ready to be released to the public until September 9, 1969, and this is the date of first issue that appears in the postmark.
· This Sept. 9 postmark also reproduces the July 20, 1969 cancel of the first moon mail which was used to cancel a proof of the 10¢ First Man on the Moon stamp cancelled on the moon, this is the commemorative part of the Sept. 9, 1969 cancel.
· The 10¢ First Man on the Moon stamp was designed by artist Paul Calle and this postage stamp is the first jumbo-size commemorative issue. This Apollo 11 first day cover was the most popular ever issued with a record 8,743,070 postmarked at Washington, D.C., the official city of release.

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