Anne VandeMoortel is a Moline school nurse, blogger, grandmother of five, Prader-Willi mother, serial hobbyist, and collector of people and their stories.

Peace. The common wish of pageant contestants is that we will have world peace.

People have worn peace signs for years. Churchgoers pray that peace be with you.

We use prayer beads, meditation and exercise to bring peace into our lives. This week, the most mentioned statement about peace has been: Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon July 1969 A.D.

We came in peace for all mankind.

At 10 years old, I was in a swimming pool on vacation with my family. My parents called for us to get out of the pool to watch history in the making. We huddled around a black-and-white television set on the enclosed porch of one of the resort's cabins. The images on the screen were gray and blurry, but we watched breathlessly as the astronauts stepped onto the moon in their bulky white spacesuits.

Our heroes were astronauts, even if we didn't understand the importance of the accomplishment we had just witnessed. We were proud that the United States flag was being planted on the surface of the moon and were thrilled by the safe return of the astronauts to Earth.

I watched whatever I could find on TV about the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. The magnitude of the event was more meaningful to me now than it was to the 10-year-old girl who watched as it was actually happening.

My skin tingled when I heard them read the words from the plaque. It did not state "men from the United States," which was certainly true, but instead was all-encompassing and universal by stating, "men from the planet Earth."

I also was intrigued by the phrasing of "we came in peace," as this was often heard during alien encounters in movies.

President Richard Nixon said, "For every American, this has to be the proudest day of our lives, and for people all over the world, I am sure that they, too, join with Americans in recognizing what an immense feat this is. Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man's world. And as you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquillity, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquillity to Earth. For one priceless moment, in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one: one in their pride in what you have done, and one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth." I imagined the beauty contestants' vision of world peace.

Sometimes we moon about in a dreamy way. We sing songs about a harvest moon, flying to the moon, a blue moon, and the dark side of the moon. Nurses, police officers and teachers will tell stories of the effects of a full moon. We can look at the moon and know that wherever a loved one is, he or she can look up to see the same moon. But a small number of people have actually visited the moon.

We have respected and admired the astronauts who stepped courageously into the unknown. Elementary schools now carry their names as a way to honor their bravery and as a way to inspire the youths who attend the schools.

The Apollo 11 team has inspired people all over the Earth to reach for the moon. To always take one small step, because it might just be a giant leap.

Anne VandeMoortel is a Moline school nurse, blogger, grandmother of five, Prader-Willi mother, serial hobbyist, and collector of people and their stories.


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