Space Goals vs. Earth Goals

The Associated Press story in The Times, “20 Years Later, Soviets Seek Moonwalk” (July 21), does not have it quite right. It is not true that “On July 20, 1969, Soviet television ignored the historic landing.” Unless my memory has badly distorted events, it went like this: At 8 in the morning of that day, I was rousted (I am choosing my words carefully) out of my warm bed in the Hotel Rossiya, a stone’s throw from the Kremlin, in Moscow. Every American in the hotel, it soon became apparent, was getting the same treatment. We were herded, in pajamas and robes, into the corridor, down three flights of back stairs, and were funneled without much ceremony into one room. We were seated firmly on cold metal chairs in front of a small television set. Very soon we were watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon. With English subtitles. Our “guards,” the stalwart women who kept a 24-hour watch over us from posts at the center of the intersecting corridors on each floor of the hotel, were beaming and applauding us for the feat of our compatriots. There wasn’t, as they say, a dry eye in the house.

For the rest of the day, people in the street greeted our bus, making flying motions and saluting us with hands clapsed over their heads. I can’t imagine how everyone in Moscow knew about the moon landing, but they certainly did. Pravda printed the story two days later--on Page 5. (I have the issue before me.)


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