2019 MP3 Recording of Original VOA Audio, Video with NASA Photographs, Transcript and Images of VOA’s 1969 LP Record by Cold War Radio Museum

MP3 Audio of 1969 VOA Radio Broadcast on LP Record

2019 Cold War Radio Museum Video with NASA Images and MP3 Audio of 1969 VOA Broadcast

EAGLE ON THE MOON

MUSIC:


McGEE:


“I am sitting on top of an automobile located on a sandy beach about 2-1/2 or 3 miles away from the Navy’s Vanguard missile . . .”

NARRATOR:

The date was December 6, 1957 . . . the man speaking a reporter for NBC News . . . and this is how and where it all began: with a rocket attempting to orbit the first American artificial earth satellite . . .


McGHEE:


“. . . There she goes! Flame is shooting out from under the bottom of it and a huge, huge ball of fire is rising up, perhaps a hundred feet. And as yet, the missile has not cleared the ground, I do not see it taking off, and apparently we’ve had some kind of difficulty on the pad. We have no explanation for what the difficulty may be; the only assumption we can make at this time is that some sort of last-minute trouble has occurred and has spelled a failure for this effort that has been anticipated for so long.”


NARRATOR:

America had entered the space age . . . not with a bang but with a whimper!


MUSIC:

NARRATOR:

. . . It was much more than just a rocket blowing up on a launch pad: it was a crushing blow to American pride, a slap in the face of American technology, a moment of doubt in this nation’s capability to venture into space . . .

MUSIC:


ARMSTRONG:


“Houston, Tranquility Base here . . . The Eagle has landed!”


NARRATOR:


. . . And this is Astronaut Neil Armstrong
— speaking from the Moon on the 20th of July, 1969 . . .

MUSIC:


NARRATOR:


. . . Twelve years of national effort, the fuel of many men’s imagination, and the skills of four hundred thousand technicians served as a bridge between these two days . . . the day when American space technology stood at its lowest point and the day when it reached its peak . . . as the Eagle landed on the Moon . . .

MUSIC:

ANNOUNCER:


. . . EAGLE ON THE MOON . . . a special broadcast recounting the highlights of Apollo XI—man’s first venture to another celestial body . . .

Reporting is VOA Correspondent Harry Monroe.

MUSIC:

NARRATOR:

The goal was set by one President . . .

KENNEDY :

“. . . this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon . . .

NARRATOR:

. . . re-asserted by another . . .

JOHNSON:


“. . . we must assure our pre-eminence in the peaceful exploration of outer space, focusiog on an expedition to the Moon in this decade . . .”

NARRATOR:


. . . and broadened by a third:


NIXON:


” . . . as we explore the reaches of space, let us go to the new worlds together—not as new worlds to be conquered, but as a new adventure to be shared.”

NARRATOR:


The challenge was set forth by John Fitzgerald Kennedy, re-asserted by Lyndon Baines Johnson and broadened by Richard Nixon. And it was met by three men:

ASTRONAUTS:


“Neil Armstrong, Commander, Apollo XI.”

“Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot, Apollo XI”


“Edwin E. Aldrin, Junior, Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo XI”

NARRATOR:

But the dream belongs to all mankind and was born when history was young . . .

MUSIC:

CLARKE:

“The very conception of interplanetary travel was, of course, impossible until it was realized that there were other planets . . . “

NARRATOR:

Arthur C. Clarke, twice Chairman of the British Interplanetary Society and a writer of science and fiction:

CLARKE:

“. . . To the ancients, therefore, the idea of interplanetary travel, in the literal sense, was not merely fantastic; it was meaningless. However, although the stars and planets were simply dimensionless points of light, the Sun and Moon were obviously in a different class. Anyone could see they had appreciable size, and the Moon had markings on its face which might well be interpreted as continents and seas. It was not surprising, therefore, that many of the Greek philosophers believed that the Moon really was a world. And it was natural that men should write stories about traveling to that mysterious and romantic world.”

NARRATOR:

The first known story about a voyage to the Moon was written by Lucian of Samos, who lived in the second century of the Christian era: its tide was TRUE HISTORY, and its hero was taken to the Moon in a waterspout which caught up his ship when he was sailing beyond the Pillars of Hercules. Over the centuries, there were other books dealing with journeys to the Moon—books whose heroes utilized imaginative, but highly improbable, means to reach the Moon. The hero of a book titled MAN IN THE MOON, published in 1656, traveled on a flimsy raft towed by trained swans. Cyrano de Bergerac utilized for his VOYAGE TO THE MOON AND SUN bottles filled with dew, which propelled him to the Moon as the dew evaporated under the strong rays of the Sun. But then, in 1865, came the book which would become the classic of the genre: FROM EARTH TO THE MOON by Jules Verne . . .

CLARKE:

“Verne did not take the easy way out and invent, as so many writers before and since have done, some mysterious method of pro- pulsion or a substance which would defy gravity. He knew that if a body could be projected away from the Earth at a sufficient speed it would reach the Moon: so, he simply built an enormous gun and fired his heroes from it in a specially equipped projectile.”

NARRATOR:

Through an amazing coincidence, Jules Verne chose as the locale from where the three space travelers left for the Moon a small town in Florida, where five million people came to witness man’s first attempt to journey to another celestial body . . .

TURNER:


“This is VOA Correspondent Rhett Turner at Cape Kennedy, Florida . . .”

NARRATOR:

. . . On the I6th of July, 1969, one man’s imagination blended with reality . . .

TURNER:


” . . . I am standing about 5 kilometers from the point where a Saturn V rocket stands bathed in a wreath of brilliant light. Atop the rocket—inside the Apollo spacecraft named Columbia after Jules Verne’s spacecraft—are the first men who will attempt to land on the Moon. The beaches, fields and highways surrounding the Kennedy Space Center bustle with people . . . an estimated crowd of several hundred thousand . . . seeking the best vantage points to witness the launch of the astronauts. Their mood is tense and expectant. Many have slept on the beach or in their cars, bundled up against the chilling dampness of the sub-tropical night . . . It looks as if Jules Verne’s imagination had come to life!”

LAUNCH CONTROL:

“This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control. We have just passed the 31-minute mark in our count—we’re T – 30 minutes, 52 seconds and counting, aiming toward our planned lift-off time of 32 minutes past the hour, the start of a launch window on this, the mission to land men on the Moon. The countdown still proceeding very satisfactorily at (his time, we’ve just got by an important test with the launch vehicle, checking out the various batteries in the three- stages and instrument unit of the Saturn V . . .”


HAMMERSMITH:

“The Saturn V is about 121 meters tall with the Apollo spacecraft in place . . .”

NARRATOR:


This is John Hammersmith—Senior Systems Engineer, Manned Spaceflight Program:


HAMMERSMITH:


“. . . It generates enough thrust to place a 125-ton payload into a 105-nautical-mile circular earth orbit, or it can boost a smaller payload to the viciniry of any planet in the solar system.”


LAUNCH CONTROL:


“This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control. We have just passed the 26-minute mark in the count, T -25 minutes, 53 seconds and counting, still proceeding very satisfactorily. At this time, spacecraft test conductor Skip Shelvin working with astronaut Buzz Aldrin in the middle seat, covering the final pressurization of the reaction control system for the spacecraft”


HEALEY:

“The Apollo spacecraft is a three-man spacecraft . . .

NARRATOR:


John Healey of North American Rockwell, builders of the Apollo spacecraft:

HEALEY:

“. . . The over-all dimensions are about 12 foot by 13 foot in physical size. The volume of space available inside the spacecraft itself allows the spacecraft to be so arranged that the astronauts can stand up in the spacecraft, we can maneuver our couches in such a way that we actually have the capability for more than one as- tronaut to be in a working position and/or sleep position.”


LAUNCH CONTROL:

“This is Apollo Saturn Launch Control. We passed the 11-minute mark, all still ‘go’ at this time. The astronauts in the spacecraft busy again, the commandsr—Neil Armstrong—has performed some final switch settings for the stabilization and control as planned in their countdown, and proceeded to have a physical examination, in which they were declared flight ready. They sat down for the normal astronaut fare on launch day as far as breakfast is concerned, orange juice, steak, scrambled eggs, toast and coffee. The astronauts departed” from their crew quarters, arter checking out their suits, they departed from the crew quarters at 6:27 a.m. and some 27 minutes later, 8 miles away from the crew quarters, at the Kennedy Space Center, atop the launch pad at Complex 39, 6:54 a.m., the commander, astronaut Neil Armstrong, was first to board the spacecraft . . .”

ARMSTRONG:


“I am from the State of Ohio, from Wapakoneta, a small town of about 5,000 population. I have been flying for 20 years this year, flew as a civilian for 3 years, in the Navy for 4 years, then as a test pilot for NACA and NASA for the last 11 years.”

LAUNCH CONTROL:


“. . . He was followed, about 5 minutes later, by Mike Collins . . .”


COLLINS:

“I was born in Rome, Italy, my father was stationed there in the American Army. I went to the Test Pilot School at Edwards and I was a test pilot there for a couple of years, and went back again to what was then called the Aerospace Research Pilot Course and then, following that, came to work for NASA.”

LAUNCH CONTROL:

Then finally, Buzz Aldrin, the man who is sitting in the middle seat during the lift-off, was the third astronaut to come aboard . . .”

ALDRIN:


“I attended public schools in my hometown of Montclair, New Jersey, received an appointment to the United States Military Academy, at West Point. I was commissioned in the Air Force and, in 1959 applied for admission into Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study astronautics in greater depth, heading toward a Doctor of Science degree.”


LAUNCH CONTROL:


“Five minues, 52 seconds and counting . . . The Lunar Module, which has been rather inactive during these later phases of the count, also is going on internal power at this time, on the two batteries in the ascent stage and the four batteries of the descent stage . . .”

SMITH:


“The Lunar Module is unique, inasmuch
as it has been designed solely to land on a lunar terrain . . .”

NARRATOR:


Aerospace Engineer Ed Smith of NASA:

SMITH:

“. . . It initially weighs approximately 33,700 pounds at separation, it will weigh about 16,500 pounds at landing, and will weigh about 5,000 pounds at rendezvous and docking. There are two stations, with two engines aboard: the descent stage with its associate descent engine, which has a throttlable ten-thousand-pound thrust engine —the ascent stage, with its non-throttlable three-thousand-pound engine.”

LAUNCH CONTROL:


“The Lunar Module on Apollo XI, of course, when it separates from the Command Module in lunar orbit, will have the call sign, ‘Eagle.’ The Command Module call sign, once the two vehicles separate, will be ‘Columbia.’ Both Columbia and Eagle are ‘go’ at this time . . .”

NARRATOR:


Around the world, a communication network of unprecedented sophistication and speed was also in the final stages of its preparations: from the moment Apollo XI was underway, it would electronically shrink the enormous distance separating tracking stations on earth and the moon-bound ship to the scale and closeness of a telephone conversation between two people living in the same town . . .


COVINGTON:


“The Manned Flight Network and the communications system that tie the stations of this network together, is made up of 17 ground stations, 4 ships, and 8 aircraft . . .”

NARRATOR:

Ozro M. Covington, Assistant Director for Manned Flight Support, Goddard Spaceflight Center:

COVINGTON:

“. . .We’ll be monitoring everything from the astronauts’ aeromedical data to the temperature of various points in the spacecraft, the fuel reserves aboard the spacecraft, and, in addition, keeping up pretty continuously with the status of the on-board digital computer.”


LAUNCH SEQUENCE STARTING AT T-30 SECONDS—CROSSFADES TO

MUSIC:

NARRATOR:


For a last instant, the gleaming body of the rocket shone against the Florida sky . . . Then came the boiling clouds of smoke, thunder shook the earth, and Apollo XI began to move . . . a painfully slow and perfectly straight ascent toward the blue sky . . .

MUSIC:

NARRATOR:


. . . Inside the spacecraft, none of the majesty of the moment was visible . . . A myriad of small green lights flickered across the instrument panel like a flight of fireflies . . . pointers rose mutely under the glass dials, advising the three spacemen how the equipment was performing . . . Outside, ignition came with a roar so powerful that people standing thirty or forty kilometers away could feel it in the ground under their feet. To the space travelers, in their little craft, it was the thunder of a million drums. Only a minute later, they were thrust out of the roar abruptly . . . in the same way, and for the same reason, that lightning leaves its thunder behind: they were now traveling faster than sound . . .

MUSIC:

NARRATOR:

Apollo XI was on its way to the Moon …

MUSIC:

NARRATOR:

. . . Three explorers from the planet Earth—who, like all explorers from the dawn of time, live by the subtle thrill of danger—were taking the banner of discovery to the celestial body nearest their own. They took along the dreams of Jules Verne of France and H. G. Welles of Britain . . . the courage of Galileo Galilei of Italy . . . the visions of Johannes Kepler of Germany, Herman Oberth of Romania and Konstantin Tsiolkovski of Russia . . . the imagination of Robert H. Goddard, the daring of John F. Kennedy, and the quiet dedication of four hundred thousand men and women . . . They also took the gold medals awarded to five men who gave their lives in the conquest of space . . . Virgil Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee of the United States . . . Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov of the Soviet Union. And following them were the thoughts of the president of the United States:

NIXON:

“As the astronauts go where man has never gone before, as they attempt what man has never tried, we on earth will want, as one people, to be with them in spirit, to share the glory, and the wonder, and to support them with prayers that all will go well.”

(END SIDE ONE)

NARRATOR:

Two-and-a-half seconds after it left Launch Complex 39 at Cape Kennedy, Apollo XI leapt from its earth orbit and into the journey that would take the three spacemen to the Moon . . .

NARRATOR:

. . . They reached it on the third day, following a plan devised months before—a plan which deviated little from the one used before by the crews of Apollo VII and X . . .

HAGE:


“Approximately 3 days after leaving the launch pad a[ the Kennedy Spacecraft Center . . .”

NARRATOR:

Mission Director George Hage:

HAGE:

“. . . the astronauts will burn their service propulsion rocket engine again, this time behind the Moon, and will inject the space- craft, the docked spacecraft, into a 60 by 170-nautical-mile orbit. After determining that systems are in a ‘go’ configuration, the Lunar Module will separate from the Command and Service Module . . .”

MISSION CONTROL:

“Hello, Eagle, Houston. We’re standing by. Over!”

EAGLE:

“Roger. Eagle is undocked.”

MISSION CONTROL:

“Roger. How does it look?”

EAGLE:
“The Eagle has wings!”


HAGE:

“, . . and will perform a small burn which will take (he Lunar Module down 10 an altitude of about 50,000 feet above the lunar surface . . .”


EAGLE:
“Our radar checks indicate 50,000 feet, our visual altitude checks are about 53,000.”

MISSION CONTROL: “Roger. Copy.”

KENNEDY :

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth . . .”

MISSION CONTROL:

“Coming up on 1 minute to ignition. Cut. Altitude about 46,000 feet, continuing to descend.”

KENNEDY :


“. . . Our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men.”


MISSION CONTROL:


“Two minutes, 20 seconds, everything look- ing good. We show altitude about 47,000 feet.”


KENNEDY:


“. . . We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people .. .”


MISSION CONTROL:

“We’re now in the approach phase, every- thing looking good. Altitude 5,200 feet.


EAGLE:

“Manual attitude control is good.”


MISSION CONTROL:

“Roger, copy. Altitude 4,200 feet. Houston, you’re ‘go’ for landing. Over.”


KENNEDY :

“. . . Space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes (hat man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours . . .”

MISSION CONTROL: “Sixty seconds.”

EAGLE:


“Lights on, down 2-1/2, forward, forward, 40 feet, down 2-1/2, picking up some dust, 30 feet, 2-1/2 down, straight shadow, 4 forward, 4 forward, drifting to the right a little.”


KENNEDY :


“. . . But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? . . . We choose to go to the Moon!” (APPLAUSE)


MISSION CONTROL: “Thirty seconds.”

EAGLE:

“Contact light. OK, engine stop. Engine arm off. 413 is in.

MISSION CONTROL:

“We copy you down, Eagle.”

KENNEDY:


“. . . We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard, because that challenge is one that we’re willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone and one we intend to win!” (APPLAUSE)

EAGLE:

“Tranquility base, here. The Eagle has landed!”

MUSIC:

MISSION CONTROL:

“Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You’ve got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot!”

EAGLE: “Thank you!”

MISSION CONTROL: “You’re looking good, hear?”

EAGLE:


“A very smooth touchdown.”

LOW:

“The first thing that the guys will do when they get to the lunar surface is get ready to launch again . . .”


NARRATOR:


George Low, Manager, Apollo Spacecraft, Manned Spacecraft Center:

LOW:


“. . . They’ll put themselves in a position so that in the event of any kind of an emergency they could launch again as quickly as possible.”

NARRATOR:


That’s what the plan said . . . but that’s not what the first earth travelers to reach the Moon did . . . because they’re human! . . . The first thing they did was to look out the window of their spacecraft and tell all who were listening what the Moon looks like when you’re standing on its surface.

ARMSTRONG:


“It looks like a collection of just about every variety of shape, angularity, granu- larity . . . about every variety of rock you could find. The colors vary pretty much, depending on how you are looking. There doesn’t appear to be too much of a general color at all.”

NARRATOR:


And how did they find the low gravity on the Moon?


ARMSTRONG:


“I don’t think we’ve noticed any difficulty at all in adapting to one-sixth G. It seems immediately natural to live in this environment.

NARRATOR:

A few short hours after the Eagle landed on the Moon, the two men who made the journey on board were ready to take the longest step any man had ever taken. They took it—first one, Neil Armstrong, then the other, Edwin Aldrin—in full view of mil- lions and millions of people watching on television . . .


ARMSTRONG:

“That’s one small step for man . . . one giant leap for mankind.”

NARRATOR:

The first words uttered by a man as he set foot on the surface of the Moon . . . “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” It was taken at 56 minutes past the hour of 2, Greenwich Mean Time, on the 21st day of July, 1969 . . .

MUSIC:

ARMSTRONG:


“It’s quite dark in the shadow and a little hard for me to see, but I have good footing. I’ll work my way to the sunlight here without looking directly into the sun.”

NARRATOR:

Neil Armstrong was followed, twenty minutes later, by Edwin Aldrin . . . and for the next two hours, like curious boys at a frog pond, they strolled and jumped on the lunar surface, dug their feet into its gray granules . . . and, like tourists the world over, took pictures of themselves . . . In full view of millions of mesmerized people, they executed a fantastic ballet with movements that seemed to come from a science fiction movie of yesteryear . . . all the while explaining to the earthlings they had left behind and who were watching what they were doing . . .

ALDRIN:

“It’s the so-called ‘kangaroo hop.’ It does work. But your forward mobility is not quite as good as the conventional safe pace might be.”

NARRATOR:


. . . Then, they started to accomplish the mission for which they had come to the Moon . . . gathering samples for man’s first collection of Moon rocks . . . unpacking the scientific equipment they would leave behind . . . Then … a phone call— from the President of the United States:

NIXON:


“Hello, Neil and Buzz . . . I am talking to you from the Oval Room at the White House and this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made. For every American this has to be the proudest day of our lives and for peoole all over the world, I am sure they, too, join with us in recognizing what an immense feat this is. For one priceless moment in the whole history of man, all the people of 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.”

ARMSTRONG:

“Thank you, Mr. President . . . It’s a great honor and a privilege for us to be here, representing not only the United States but men of peace of all nations, men with interest and the curiosity and the vision for the future.”

MUSIC:

NARRATOR:

Two hours, thirteen minutes and thirty-two seconds after Neil Armstrong set foot on the surface of the Moon, the astronauts were back inside their craft and the hatch was closed. Around the Eagle, there were several mementoes of man’s first visit to the Moon: the shoulder patches of the three American astronauts and the gold medals of the two Soviet cosmonauts who died in the conquest of space . . . an American flag . . . and a small plaque:

ARMSTRONG:


“It shows two hemispheres . . . underneath it says, ‘Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.’ It has crew members’ signatures and the signature of the President of the United States.”

NARRATOR:

Twenty-one hours, thirty.six minutes and twenty seconds after the first spacecraft from the planet Earth had landed on its nearest satellite, the Eagle stood ready to take its crew aloft again . . .

MUSIC:

NARRATOR:

. . . As millions of people here on Earth held their breath, the Eagle’s engine roared to life and, moments later, it was on its way, with one terse comment from its commander:

ARMSTRONG: “Very quiet ride!”

MUSIC:

NARRATOR:


“A very quiet ride . . ,” It stayed quiet, as the Eagle made its way back into the orbit of the Moon, searched and found the Command Module in which Mike Collins had been waiting patiently for the last twenty- four hours . . . docked with it . . . and began the long journey home . . .

MUSIC:


NARRATOR:


The journey came to an end at sixteen hundred hours, forty-nine minutes Greenwich Time, on Thursday, July 24, 1969, in the waters of the Pacific Ocean . . . just like the journey undertaken a century ago by the three imaginary travelers of Jules Verne’s novel . . . which today reads almost like the flight plan of Apollo XI . . .

MUSIC:

NARRATOR:

The three “men from the planet Earth” who had gone to the Moon “for all man- kind” came out of their spacecraft dressed in an unfamiliar uniform designed to avoid contamination of their fellow earthlings by germs they may have brought back from the Moon. In a matter of minutes they were on board the aircraft carrier “Hornet”—but the now familiar welcome ceremony on the flight deck reserved for all returning astronauts did not take place. Instead, the three space travelers entered a mobile home, where they would remain for eighteen days, in quarantine . . . But there was a short ceremony on the hangar deck . . . a ceremony during which they were welcomed back by the President of the United States . . .

NIXON:

“Neil, Buzz and Mike, I want you to know that I think I am the luckiest man in the world, and I say this not only because I have the honor to be President of the United States, but particularly because I have the privilege of speaking for so many in welcoming you back to Earth, I was thinking, as you came down and we knew it was a success, and it had only been eight days—just a week, a long week—that this is the greatest week in the history of the world since the creation, because as a result of what you have done, the world has never been closer together before.”

MUSIC:

NARRATOR:


The journey of the Eagle is over. The challenge set forth by John Fitzgerald Kennedy, re-asserted by Lyndon Baines Johnson, and broadened by Richard Nixon, has been met. The human spirit, as indefinable as faith or love but as real as the Moon, swept man to another victory in his never-ending quest for accomplishing the impossible, for learning what no one knows, for traveling where no one has ever been. For one soaring moment in history, man reached out into the universe to touch a future as fathomless as infinity . . . He began his newest quest with “one small step” which helped mankind take “a giant leap.” He began perhaps timidly, but certainly aware that this was a journey which had to be undertaken. For—in the words of one who foresaw it, H. G. Wells—”for man there is no rest and no ending. He must go on—conquest beyond conquest . . . And when he has conquered all the deeps of space and all the mysteries of time, still he will be but beginning.”

MUSIC:

MONAURAL 33-1/3 RPM

VOICE OF AMERICA

U.S. INFORMATION AGENCY

Eagle on the Moon

The Flight of APOLLO 11

with the voices of

Presidents

Richard Nixon,

John F. Kennedy

and

Lyndon B. Johnson


THE CREW OF APOLLO 11:

Neil A. Armstrong,

Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr.

and

Michael Collins

and

Ozro M. Covington, Assistant Director for
Manned Spaceflight Tracking, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA

Arthur C. Clarke

George H. Hage, Apollo XI Mission Director, NASA

John Hammersmith, Senior Systems Engineer, Manned Spaceflight Program, NASA

John Healey, North American Rockwell Corp.

John W. King, Apollo Saturn Launch Control, NASA


Christopher C Kraft, Director of Flight of Operations, Manned Spacecraft Center, NASA

George M. Low, Manager, Apollo Spacecraft Program, NASA

Frank McGee, NBC News

William Schick, Apollo XI Test Coordinator, NASA

Ed Smith, Aerospace Engineer, NASA

Rhett Turner—VOA

A VOICE OF AMERICA DOCUMENT

Written and Produced by Michael A. Hanu

Narrated by Harry Monroe

Announcer: Frank Oliver

Directed by Jim Parisi

Studio Technicians: Charles Wood and Phil Danaher

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P.

Poland, A Season of Light, and of Darkness

Poland: A Season of Light, and of Darkness - Front Cover, Liaison - Bulka
Poland: A Season of Light, and of Darkness – Front Cover, Liaison – Bulka

In 1982, the United States International Communication Agency (USICA), earlier and later called the United States Information Agency (USIA), published a booklet “Poland: A Season of Light, and of Darkness,” to complement its “Let Poland Be Poland” television film produced by the agency as a response of the Reagan Administration to the imposition of martial law in Poland by General Wojciech Jaruzelski and his regime.

Writing about Solidarity:

…A dawning of freedom, when the horizon opened to reveal a sudden landscape of national concord and individual hope…

Writing about martial law:

…then a night of fear and arrest, and the return to a familiar oppression.

“Poland: A Season of Light, and of Darkness” quoted from President Ronald Reagan’s address in “Let Poland Be Poland.”

“Solidarity symbolizes the struggle of real workers in a so-called workers’ state for fundamental human and economic rights…the right to assemble, the right to strike, and the right to freedom of expression.”

USICA Martial Law Poland

According to USICA, “Let Poland Be Poland” television broadcast was seen, in whole or in part, by more than 180 million people in 43 countries. In addition, the Voice of America (VOA) broadcast parts of the audio track of the TV broadcast. The VOA Polish Service, where I was in charge at the time, broadcast the whole audio of “Let Poland Be Poland.”

I was involved in recruiting Polish poet Czesław Miłosz to participate in the program.

Leaders on Poland Martial Law p. 1

Leaders on Poland Martial Law p. 2

USICA Martial Law Poland PDF

Leaders on Poland Martial Law p. 1 PDF

Leaders on Poland Martial Law p. 2 PDF

R.

Radio was a ‘childhood companion’ of Polish Nobel Prize author Olga Tokarczuk

I learned something today by reading on the Internet the Nobel Prize in Literature Lecture delivered on December 7, 2019 at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm by Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk. As a young girl growing up in Poland in the 1960s and the 1970s, a country at that time still under communist rule until 1989, she was often listening to the radio. As she described it, radio was her “great childhood companion.” In her Nobel speech, Tokarczuk mentioned hearing programs from all kinds of different stations—Warsaw, London, Luxembourg and Paris.

Olga Tokarczuk – Nobel Lecture

Only literature is capable of letting us go deep into the life of another being, understand their reasons, share their emotions and experience their fate.

Literature Laureate Olga Tokarczuk
Photo: Clément Morin

The first photograph I ever experienced consciously is a picture of my mother from before she gave birth to me. Unfortunately, it’s a black-and-white photograph, which means that many of the details have been lost, turning into nothing but gray shapes. The light is soft, and rainy, likely a springtime light, and definitely the kind of light that seeps in through a window, holding the room in a barely perceptible glow. My mom is sitting beside our old radio, and it’s the kind with a green eye and two dials—one to regulate the volume, the other for finding a station.

Photo by Dušan Tatomirović

This radio later became my great childhood companion; from it I learned of the existence of the cosmos. Turning an ebony knob shifted the delicate feelers of the antennae, and into their purview fell all kinds of different stations—Warsaw, London, Luxembourg and Paris. Sometimes, however, the sound would falter, as though between Prague and New York, or Moscow and Madrid, the antennae’s feelers stumbled onto black holes. Whenever that happened, it sent shivers down my spine. I believed that through this radio different solar systems and galaxies were speaking to me, crackling and warbling and sending me important information, and yet I was unable to decipher it.

News and literature in the age of the Internet

By Ted Lipien

Only literature is capable of letting us go deep into the life of another being, understand their reasons, share their emotions and experience their fate.

I have never met Olga Tokarczuk and never had a chance to interview her, but in 1984, when I was working for the Voice of America (VOA) Polish Service broadcasting from Washington D.C., I interviewed for the radio the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature winner Czesław Miłosz, a Polish poet of the World War II generation who had spent a good portion of his life living in exile in the United States before his death in 2004. His and Tokarczuk’s political outlook based on liberal ideas guiding their creative writing is similar, but the books they wrote express their interest in people and human events by looking at them from different angles and using different literary forms. One common theme uniting them is that Miłosz like Tokarczuk wanted to be a witness to history and was committed to preserving historical truth.

Now that I know about Olga Tokarczuk’s early fascination with radio, if I had had a chance to interview her, I would have wanted to ask her whether in her teenage years she had listened to Polish programs of Radio Free Europe, the BBC and the Voice of America as they had a great impact on me when I was growing up in Poland in the 1960s. Born in 1962, she could have heard these broadcasts if her mother had listened to them, as millions of Poles did at that time, or she may have started listening to them a few years later on her own, but she did not mention these stations by name in her Nobel Lecture. I wonder what she thought about life in Poland before the fall of communism. Did it bother her to be lied to about history by Communist Party officials and regime journalists? Did she at any time want to leave Poland and live in the West? Could she have become a great Polish writer if she had emigrated? Czesław Miłosz went into exile in the early 1950s, but he was already at that time a well-known poet in Poland.

By joining the Voice of America staff in 1973 as a young trainee-broadcaster after emigrating to the United States from Poland three years earlier, I tried to repay my debt of gratitude to the Western radio stations for giving me an honest portrayal of history. Radio was then the most powerful medium for instant international communication with nations whose rulers did not want theirs populations to receive outside news. Communist regimes resorted to jamming radio signals of these stations but without much success. Radio was the only way for journalists in the West to reach large numbers of people living in Poland under communism and is was largely the only way for the Poles to get uncensored news and information although some of them lived through World War II and experienced post-war communist repressions or they could learn about history from their parents and some of the more school teachers who were willing to take risks and teach true history to students. I had two such teachers in my youth.

In her lecture, Tokarczuk made some interesting observations how the media world has changed since the arrival of the Internet.

The world is a fabric we weave daily on the great looms of information, discussions, films, books, gossip, little anecdotes. Today the purview of these looms is enormous—thanks to the internet, almost everyone can take place in the process, taking responsibility and not, lovingly and hatefully, for better and for worse. When this story changes, so does the world. In this sense, the world is made of words.

The flood of stupidity, cruelty, hate speech and images of violence are desperately counterbalanced by all sorts of “good news,” but it hasn’t the capacity to rein in the painful impression, which I find hard to verbalize, that there is something wrong with the world. Nowadays this feeling, once the sole preserve of neurotic poets, is like an epidemic of lack of definition, a form of anxiety oozing from all directions.

There are now millions of sources of what is described as “news.“ Practically everyone with access to the world wide web can be a provider of either true knowledge or fake news, sometimes to hundreds of thousands or millions of people at practically no cost. During World War II and the Cold War, usually only governments could afford the high price of high-power transnational shortwave radio transmissions of news programs. Now, almost anyone can play the role of a journalist or a commentator. For the money totalitarian and authoritarian regimes spent before on radio transmissions, they can now hire at much less expense an army of anonymous trolls to manipulate public opinion at home and abroad.

Journalism is only as good and as honest as the people who deliver the news. Had Tokarczuk been alive during World War II and listened to wartime Voice of America broadcasts, she would have heard pro-Soviet and pro-Stalin propaganda delivered from the United States in Polish by such journalists as Mira Złotowska and Stefan Arski who later went back to Poland to work for the communist state media, or she would have heard English news written by the Stalin Peace Prize future winner, American communist author Howard Fast. However, if she had listened to the Voice of America during her youth from the 1960s until the 1980s, she would have heard the programs of the famous World War II anti-Nazi Polish underground army fighter and anti-Communist VOA broadcaster Zofia Korbońska. Had she listened to Radio Free Europe in the 1960s and the 1970s, she would have heard not only political news, but also the RFE music program, “Rendez-vous at 6:10,” hosted by Janusz Hewel. I had tuned to his program regularly in my youth and later worked with him when he was hired by the Voice of America moved to Washington, DC. She mentioned listening to Radio Luxembourg. The station was famous among teenagers in Poland for its music programs.

When it came to political news and information, the message was then, as it is now, only as good as the messenger. Tokarczuk believes that in the current informational chaos filled with hate speech, feel-good stories and fake news, literature can help readers find a deeper understanding of the world by providing a broader context in which humans look at themselves and interact which each other. In remembrance of her mother, she titled her lecture “The Tender Narrator,” hoping perhaps that she may encourage more people to communicate with love rather than hatred. Her advice may be much more difficult to apply to short-form journalism and to social media posts on the web, but journalists should pay attention to her words. Tokarczuk has received anonymous death threats on social media from fringe anti-Semitic Polish extremists. I also saw respected Voice of America journalists in the United States publicly posting a video with the VOA logo condoning violence against an American politician. The Polish extremists are almost certainly not journalists, and some of them may be Vladimir Putin’s trolls, but both in the United States and in Poland, social media outlets have contributed to destroying among journalists and other Internet users many previously observed limits of personal and journalistic decency, not to mention journalistic accuracy and objectivity.

To my disappointment, I did not find last week on the Voice of America English news website any coverage of Olga Tokarczuk’s Nobel Lecture. When international news radio broadcasting was still popular, it may seem now that it was a much better medium for practicing good and comprehensive journalism, allowing for a more nuanced presentation of facts and opinions than the Internet has done so far. That may be true to some degree. VOA’s radio journalists were focused not only on delivering news censored behind the Iron Curtain but also on presenting and explaining ideas behind the news. The Internet, however, has far more information that can be instantly accessed in much less time than the radio was able to provide during the Cold War. The problem is not the amount of information but people’s ability to find accurate news and, more importantly, find an objective analysis. During the Cold War, radio listeners learned to trust some of the individual broadcasters and reject those they disagreed with, just as they do now, but now their sources of information are almost limitless, confusing, and often anonymous or operating under false flags.

For better or for worse, the era of international radio broadcasting is largely gone, as it has been replaced now in most countries by Internet-based platforms of trans-border communication. Such trans-border communication in itself is also becoming less relevant in most countries for many news consumers interested in domestic issues, unless it is managed by journalists living in diaspora who are in touch with their audience and have in-country news contacts on a daily basis. In general, people prefer the ease of using domestic media and domestic information sources for both domestic and foreign news over media outlets run by foreign governments or other foreign entities. This was also the case for practical rand technical reasons during the Cold War, but people behind the Iron Curtain knew then that not all news from domestic sources was accurate and that much of it was disinformation and propaganda. They had to rely on stations such as Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, the BBC or the Voice of America to be fully informed.

Thanks to the Internet, dissident journalists can now reach their audience in most countries and still remain independent from any inside or outside government support. They can be working in their own countries or abroad. There are still, however, states such as China, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Vietnam, Iran and Russia, where many dissident journalists are in prison. Many journalists have been victims of assassinations. Hundreds of millions of poor people still have no Internet or mobile phones. If had a chance to interview Olga Tokarczuk, I would have asked her how she would propose to bring more decency to journalism and how she would want to communicate her message to help journalists in countries without a free media in their struggle for universal human rights. Would her message be different for countries such as the United States and Poland which have a free media and free speech? Olga Tokarczuk’s idea of relying on literature to expand understanding of other people’s emotions and actions is a correct one, but what would be her advice for journalists in the era of the Internet?

Olga Tokarczuk – Nobel Lecture

How we think about the world and—perhaps even more importantly—how we narrate it have a massive significance, therefore. A thing that happens and is not told ceases to exist and perishes. This is a fact well known to not only historians, but also (and perhaps above all) to every stripe of politician and tyrant. He who has and weaves the story is in charge.

Today our problem lies—it seems—in the fact that we do not yet have ready narratives not only for the future, but even for a concrete now, for the ultra-rapid transformations of today’s world. We lack the language, we lack the points of view, the metaphors, the myths and new fables. Yet we do see frequent attempts to harness rusty, anachronistic narratives that cannot fit the future to imaginaries of the future, no doubt on the assumption that an old something is better than a new nothing, or trying in this way to deal with the limitations of our own horizons. In a word, we lack new ways of telling the story of the world.

John Amos Comenius, the great seventeenth-century pedagogue, coined the term “pansophism,” by which he meant the idea of potential omniscience, universal knowledge that would contain within it all possible cognition. This was also, and above all, a dream of information available to everyone. Would not access to facts about the world transform an illiterate peasant into a reflective individual conscious of himself and the world? Will not knowledge within easy reach mean that people will become sensible, that they will direct the progress of their lives with equanimity and wisdom?

When the Internet first came about, it seemed that this notion would finally be realized in a total way. Wikipedia, which I admire and support, might have seemed to Comenius, like many like-minded philosophers, the fulfillment of the dream of humanity—now we can create and receive an enormous store of facts being ceaselessly supplemented and updated that is democratically accessible to just about every place on Earth.

A dream fulfilled is often disappointing. It has turned out that we are not capable of bearing this enormity of information, which instead of uniting, generalizing and freeing, has differentiated, divided, enclosed in individual little bubbles, creating a multitude of stories that are incompatible with one another or even openly hostile toward each other, mutually antagonizing.

Furthermore, the Internet, completely and unreflectively subject to market processes and dedicated to monopolists, controls gigantic quantities of data used not at all pansophically, for the broader access to information, but on the contrary, serving above all to program the behavior of users, as we learned after the Cambridge Analytica affair. Instead of hearing the harmony of the world, we have heard a cacophony of sounds, an unbearable static in which we try, in despair, to pick up on some quieter melody, even the weakest beat. The famous Shakespeare quote has never been a better fit than it is for this cacophonous new reality: more and more often, the Internet is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury.

Research by political scientists unfortunately also contradicts John Amos Comenius’ intuitions, which were based on the conviction that the more universally available was information about the world, the more politicians would avail themselves of reason and make considered decisions. But it would appear that the matter is not at all so simple as that. Information can be overwhelming, and its complexity and ambiguity give rise to all sorts of defense mechanisms—from denial to repression, even to escape into the simple principles of simplifying, ideological, party-line thinking.

The category of fake news raises new questions about what fiction is. Readers who have been repeatedly deceived, misinformed or misled have begun to slowly acquire a specific neurotic idiosyncrasy. The reaction to such exhaustion with fiction could be the enormous success of non-fiction, which in this great informational chaos screams over our heads: “I will tell you the truth, nothing but the truth,” and “My story is based on facts!”

Fiction has lost the readers’ trust since lying has become a dangerous weapon of mass destruction, even if it is still a primitive tool. I am often asked this incredulous question: “Is this thing you wrote really true?” And every time I feel this question bodes the end of literature.

In this ardent division into truth and falsehood, the tales of our experience that literature creates have their own dimension.

I have never been particularly excited about any straight distinction between fiction and non-fiction, unless we understand such a distinction to be declarative and discretionary. In a sea of many definitions of fiction, the one I like the best is also the oldest, and it comes from Aristotle. Fiction is always a kind of truth.

I am also convinced by the distinction between true story and plot made by the writer and essayist E.M. Forster. He said that when we say, “The king died and then the queen died,” it’s a story. But when we say, “The king died, and then the queen died of grief,” that is a plot. Every fictionalization involves a transition from the question “What happened next?” to an attempt at understanding it based on our human experience: “Why did it happen that way?”

Literature begins with that “why,” even if we were to answer that question over and over with an ordinary “I don’t know.”

Thus literature poses questions that cannot be answered with the help of Wikipedia, since it goes beyond just information and events, referring directly to our experience.

But it is possible that the novel and literature in general are becoming before our very eyes something actually quite marginal in comparison with other forms of narration. That the weight of the image and of new forms of directly transmitting experience—film, photography, virtual reality—will constitute a viable alternative to traditional reading. Reading is quite a complicated psychological and perceptual process. To put it simply: first the most elusive content is conceptualized and verbalized, transforming into signs and symbols, and then it is “decoded” back from language into experience. That requires a certain intellectual competence. And above all it demands attention and focus, abilities ever rarer in today’s extremely distracting world.

Humanity has come a long way in its ways of communicating and sharing personal experience, from orality, relying on the living word and human memory, through the Gutenberg Revolution, when stories began to be widely mediated by writing and in this way fixed and codified as well as possible to reproduce without alteration. The major attainment of this change was that we came to identify thinking with language, with writing. Today we are facing a revolution on a similar scale, when experience can be transmitted directly, without recourse to the printed word.

There is no longer any need to keep a travel diary when you can simply take pictures and send those pictures via social networking sites straight into the world, at once and to all. There is no need to write letters, since it is easier to call. Why write fat novels, when you can just get into a television series instead? Instead of going out on the town with friends, it would be better to play a game. Reach for an autobiography? There’s no point, since I am following the lives of celebrities on Instagram and know everything about them.

It is not even the image that is the greatest opponent of text today, as we thought back in the twentieth century, worrying about the influence of television and film. It is instead a completely different dimension of the world—acting directly on our senses.

I don’t want to sketch an overall vision of crisis in telling stories about the world. But I’m often troubled by the feeling that there is something missing in the world―that by experiencing it through glass screens, and through apps, somehow it becomes unreal, distant, two-dimensional, and strangely non-descript, even though finding any particular piece of information is astoundingly easy. These days the worrying words “someone, “something,” “somewhere,” “some time” can seem riskier than very specific, definite ideas uttered with complete certainty―such as that “the earth is flat,” “vaccinations kill,” “climate change is nonsense,” or “democracy is not under threat anywhere in the world.” “Somewhere” some people are drowning as they try to cross the sea. “Somewhere,” for “some” time, “some sort of” a war has been going on. In the deluge of information individual messages lose their contours, dissipate in our memory, become unreal and vanish.

Literature is one of the few spheres that try to keep us close to the hard facts of the world, because by its very nature it is always psychological, because it focuses on the internal reasoning and motives of the characters, reveals their otherwise inaccessible experience to another person, or simply provokes the reader into a psychological interpretation of their conduct. Only literature is capable of letting us go deep into the life of another being, understand their reasons, share their emotions and experience their fate.

For full text of Olga Tokarczuk’s Nobel Lecture, see:

Olga Tokarczuk Nobel Lecture: The Tender Narrator