Apollo 11

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin salutes the deployed United States flag during an Apollo 11 Extravehicular Activity (EVA) on the lunar surface in July 1969. The Lunar Module (LM) is on the left, and the footprints of the astronauts are visible in the soil of the Moon.

Fifty years ago, when Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, a young man from Saks was glued to his television screen.

Phil Robertson was 27 years old at the time and working at Monsanto. His schedule allowed him to have four consecutive days off, and he had spent that time watching the live broadcast of the Apollo 11 mission.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I’d watch it early in the morning until it went off at night. I felt like I was a part of it,” he remembered.

As coverage of the moon landing finally wound down in the wee hours of the morning, Robertson said, “this poem kind of came to me.”

He sat down at a table, and the words came out in a rush. “It was like I couldn’t write it fast enough.” And then he filed the poem away. In the years since, he has shared it with only a couple of people, both of whom were battling cancer.

Robertson is now 77 years old. He retired from Monsanto in 1998 after 32 years with the company. He still lives in Saks. He brought out that poem this week, as the 50th anniversary of the moon landing approached. He thought The Anniston Star might like to share it with readers.

“I just hope it brings back memories of one of the biggest historical events in our lifetime,” he said. “It was an exciting, exciting time.”

‘Reflections of the Moon’

The earth is far behind him,

    Yet he can see her light,

And memories from that distant orb

    Play on his thoughts tonight.

For he, a man named Armstrong,

    Will face destiny and soon,

While millions watch in wonderment,

    He’ll walk upon the moon.

He does not know why fate decreed him

    To be the chosen one

To perform an act in History

    No mortal man has ever done.

He turns his eyes toward Heaven,

    Beyond the star filled sky,

And solemnly makes his resolve:

    “Here, by your grace, go I.”

The portal now is open,

    As he prepares for his descent.

His eyes are filled with tears of joy;

    Emotions there he’ll vent.

His heart is bursting within his breast.

    He calms his trembling hand,

And asks for guidance from above

    While on this foreign land.

As he climbs slowly downward,

    His person now calm and strong,

He feels, with awe, a reverence

    No man has ever known.

Now standing on the bottom rung,

    One giant step away,

He prods his brain trying to find

    The right words now to say.

A million speeches fill his head,

    They’re filled with shouts of joy,

But none of them seem right, somehow,

    At this time to employ.

He directs his thoughts to earth again,

    And these words fill his mind:

“That’s one small step for man,

    One giant leap for mankind.”

Now standing on the moon dust,

    His eyes with wonder scan

Foreboding, desolate horizons

    Of craters, rocks, and sand.

He realizes what man has sought

    For eons now is found,

For he, a man who came in peace,

    Stands on this hallowed ground.

Features Editor Lisa Davis: 256-235-3555.