July 20 events -
1969 Sunday - The First Moonwalk Apollo 11 with Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin
In a previous blog I mentioned two recent events this year that most people remember where they were. The Royal Wedding on Friday April 29, and Bil Laden's death on Sunday May 1. If you had an interest in these events you probably remember watching the wedding, and where you were when you heard about Bin Laden's capture.
For those of us who are old enough we remember what kind of a day and evening we had 42 years ago when the astronauts from Apollo 11 walked on the moon. I remember being called in from playing in the afternoon, a sunny day and watching the Lunar Module land. Then after dinner I was over a friends house talking to his grandmother and he about the landing. Then I rode home on my bike before dark, it was drizzling. Then staying up ( I was nine so it was exciting to stay up until midnight), hearing Neil Armstrong's famous words "That's one small step for a man ugh! One giant leap for mankind". I can remember feeling sorry for Michael Collins because he had to stay in the Command Module and orbit while Neil and Buzz got on the moon.
This was easy for me to remember for several reasons. It was a significant news event, I had an interest in space, I was additionally excited because we were going to the shore for our vacation the next day, so the day had emotional significance. All of these factors contributed to my ability to memorise them.
Think for a minute about a hobby or interest you have. It could be sports, entertainment, computer games or anything. How long did it take you to learn what you know about the subject? When you were learning about it were you struggling, or did the information come easily? More likely than not, the information was easy to learn because you were interested in the subject.
Since I was interested in space exploration and dates, I remember where I was during all the moon missions. Friday November 14, 1969 watching the Apollo 12 liftoff in my fourth grade classroom. Wednesday November 19, 1969 seeing a large picture of astronaut Pete Conrad beaming and the caption was "This is the life, on the moon". Tuesday April 14, 1970 waiting for the school van and my mother coming out and telling us that there was a problem and they may have to come home in the lunar module. Friday February 5, 1971 taking chairs into another fifth grade classroom to watch Alan Shepherd set foot on Fra Mauro.
Additionally, I remember on Friday November 16, 1973 watching the third Skylab crew liftoff from my eighth grade homeroom. This was during the "Energy Crisis" and one of my schoolmates said "Look at all that fuel being wasted". No one laughed. Those astronauts were Ed Gibson, William Pough, and Gerald Carr. Tuesday April 14, 1981 watching John Young and Robert Crippen safely land the first shuttle at Edwards Air Force Base from a classroom at La Salle University (Then a College).
Someone might be thinking "Okay, so you memorised what you were interested in, and said that anybody can do that". Yes that is how you get started. However, to advance and develop a memory that can do anything you need to be able to connect new and sometimes uninteresting information with old information you already know. In future blogs and in my upcoming book I will teach you how to do this. Stay tuned!