It is July 20, 1969 and the whole world watches in wonder as the Apollo 11 lunar module, nicknamed the "Eagle" landed on the moon. Anticipation builds during the two hour wait as the two men in the module, Commander Neil Alden Armstrong and Col. Edwin Eugene "Buzz" Aldrin, prepare to make history and step onto the surface of the moon. They will be the first human beings to walk on a celestial body other than the planet Earth. At 11:56 pm, Armstrong descends down a ladder and utters those famous words, "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind." Joy erupts around the globe as a feat, once considered impossible occurred right before their very eyes.
The joy and excitement of that event was nearly overwhelming in the small Midwestern town of Wapakoneta, Ohio. For this close knit community, it was personal. The first man was one of their own. Neil was the son of Wapakoneta residents Steven and Viola Armstrong. He graduated from the local high school, he earned his pilots license at the local airfield and he worked after school and weekends in several local shops, stocking shelves and running errands to earn money to pay for his flying lessons. Members of the family’s church held a prayer vigil during the entire mission and while they celebrated those steps on the moon, the prayers did not stop until the Apollo 11 Astronauts were safely back on Earth.
More than 50 years have passed since that incredible accomplishment. Wapakonetans have celebrated the anniversary of that moon landing each year, not only to praise their Hometown Hero, but also the thousands of people who contributed to the success of the Apollo 11 Mission.
Mark your calendar for mid-July and come celebrate this anniversary each year in the community the "First Man" called home. We look forward to having you join us.
50th Anniversary Deemed Huge Success!
2019 marked the 50th Anniversary of the first steps onto the moon. The year had special meaning to the citizens of Wapakoneta, Ohio as the man who took those steps, Neil Alden Armstrong, called this community his hometown.
An entire year of events and festivities was celebrated in Wapakoneta and Auglaize County to honor the Apollo 11 Mission and all those who worked to make it a success.
We've been celebrating those first steps on the moon since year one and we were delighted by the outpouring of interest and the number of visitors who came to join us during 2019 for the 50th anniversary celebration. We met folks from all around the U.S.A. and from many countries around the world who wanted to visit Neil Armstrong's hometown during this special year.
Even though the 50th anniversary has passed, there are still many, many reasons to plan a visit to Wapakoneta, Ohio, to appreciate the legacy of Neil Alden Armstrong and his roots in this small community.
On the top of the list is to visit the Armstrong Air & Space Museum. See the new exhibits and the two statues of Neil Armstrong commissioned by the Armstrong Family.
Visit downtown Wapakoneta and see the third "Homecoming" statue of Mr. Armstrong under the arch at the Parkway. Visit the many unique, antique and specialty shops where you can purchase First On The Moon merchandise. Come for a meal, a snack, a cocktail or a great cup of coffee. Your taste buds will thank you!
And finally, while visiting, take the Armstrong History Self Driving Tour. You will see the places that played a part in Mr. Armstrong's life when he was a teenager living in Wapakoneta.
We look forward to welcoming you to Wapakoneta, Ohio, hometown of Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon.