20 July is a day of remembrance. For various reasons. But I’ll single out two. Both are linked with what may be referred to as “small steps” that led to “giant leaps” in the history of mankind.
The first reason has to do with a child that was born on this day in 1919 in Auckland, New Zealand. That child later became a world famous figure. Named Edmund Percival Hillary he later became Sir Edmund Hillary. Nobody knew at that time that one day he would become an icon in the history of mountaineering. Several attempts were made in the 1950’s to attain the summit of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world (29,035 feet; 8,850 metres high). But Edmund Hillary became the first man, accompanied by the Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay, also called Norkey or Norkay, original name Namgyal Wangdi, to reach the culminating point at 11.30 am on May 29 in 1953. He was knighted shortly after that successful attempt.
50 years later this day marked the first moon landing day. And that’s the second reason for remembering this day. At 10.56 pm (EDT, Eastern Daylight Time) on 20 July in 1969 two US astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, became the first humans to set foot on the moon. As soon as Armstrong stepped out of the Eagle lunar landing module he said: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” They were accompanied in the moon mission by Michael Collins on board Apollo 11, launched four days earlier, on July 16.
Mauritian residing in Rodrigues, Amanoola Khayrattee (pen name Alfa King) is contributing writer and journalist to La Gazette Mag de l’océan indien and This Week News Mauritius.
Retired, former meteorological cadre, trade unionist and OSH consultant, Amanoola has written for in-house union and other journals, publications and magazines. He runs two blogs since 2007: “Alfa King Memories”, and “Le Journal d’Alfa King”. When he is not reading or writing, he is on a 10+ km daily hike in anticipation of his monthly trails.
Amanoola may be reached at [email protected].