I’ve been fortunate to travel quite a bit in my professional career. As a result, I often get to attend some great events. One Spring in Orlando, Florida, a group of us attended an event at the Kennedy Space Center. On the way in we were given a driving tour of the facility. Our bus driver actually told us he took a wrong turn, and we ended up within 100-yards of the launch pad where rockets and space shuttles are launched from (somewhere we were not supposed to be!). As if that wasn’t exciting enough, once inside the large NASA space museum where the event was held, our group had the opportunity to speak and take photos with several legendary NASA astronauts.
Both “Buzz” Aldrin and Gene Cernan could not have been more personable. It was easy to tell by the way these men handled themselves that they were true American heroes. I quickly made sure I cued up to get my photograph taken with Buzz. As the Lunar Module pilot for the first moon landing on Apollo 11, he will forever be part of world history. Most importantly, he was the second human being to set foot on the Moon behind Neil Armstrong. It was an honor to exchange a few words with him and take a photo. My biggest highlight that evening, however, was the opportunity to speak for a period of time with the last man to walk on the moon!
Gene Cernan became “the last man on the moon” since he was the last to re-enter the Apollo 17 Lunar Module in December, 1972. Cernan earlier visited space in 1966 as co-pilot of Gemini 9A and in 1969 as lunar module pilot of Apollo 10. He has been on the moon twice! After he sat down for photo opportunities, Cernan walked over to a few of us while he was waiting to give one of several presentations that evening. So, during this pre-presentation time, here we were just two or three of us talking to the last man to walk on the moon!
Mr Cernan could not have been more friendly and accommodating in answering our questions. I asked him what was it like standing on the moon looking back at earth. He said he realized when looking at earth from the moon that “earth did not happen by accident.” He went on to say that looking back at home made him sure that a greater power exists in the universe, that something as beautiful as Earth had to be created by a higher power. I listened to every word Cernan said in amazement. I mean this man had walked on the moon twice and here he is answering my questions about what it was like. The presentations soon began and much of the same was repeated, but it was quite an unforgetable experience to speak with the “last man on the moon!”