“The U.S. 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.”
—President John Kennedy, May 25, 1961
As the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing approaches, many recollect the momentous event with hope for the future. Among those reflecting is RCC’s tenured faculty, Dr. Matt Brent, who explains historical moments such as this in his classroom every day.
One Giant Leap for Mankind
On July 20, 1969, NASA’s Apollo 11 mission to the moon changed history forever. The successful landing of Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong defined the innovations of America’s newest technology, and distinguished the U.S. as the winner of the Space Race against the Soviet Union. “At this point, we were in the middle of the Cold War,” Brent explained. “It was a competition, and of course, the Space Race was a large part of that.”
The moon landing also pushed new boundaries for news and television for the first time in the late 1960s. “This was an event that people could watch on television relatively at the time it was actually happening,” Brent said. “It was all new.”
To date, the United States is the only country to have successfully conducted crewed missions to the moon, with the last departing the lunar surface in December 1972. “It’s really amazing to think, we as a nation were the ones to do it first,” Brent said,”but, it’s also important for us to recognize that it was a group effort.” Brent argued that the U.S. was riding a wave of competitive innovation that was felt internationally, and this movement made way for incredible new technological advances.
As the scientists of Earth set their sights on the skies, the success of one country would ultimately advance society as a whole. “”One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” really asserts that the moon landing was greater than one country alone,” Brent said. “It was a monumental event for all of mankind. ” What does Dr. Brent predict for the future of space exploration? His message was clear: “The quest for exploration will continue. It is the next step for us.”
A Life of Learning Began at RCC
Dr. Brent was born and raised in Lancaster, Virginia. Throughout his academic career, he has pursued degrees in history at a variety of levels and locations. After taking courses at RCC, Brent graduated from Christopher Newport University with a bachelors degree in History. Returning to Lancaster to teach, Brent went on to receive his Masters in Education from Walden University. He then received his second Masters in History of Political Science from Western New Mexico University. During his ten years teaching at Rappahannock Community College, he earned his PhD in Leadership from the University of the Cumberlands.
Dr. Brent has taught a spectrum of history courses at RCC. From U.S. and World History, to Western Civilization and Local U.S. Government, Dr. Brent has represented many facets of international culture in his classroom. He takes great pride in being a Gull — the place where his pursuit of higher education first began.
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