Celebrating 50 Years Of Apollo 11
In Bethpage, there is a little-known expanse of land—Field B-22—behind the Grumman Studios complex. Last Thursday, that stretch of grass was occupied by Town of Oyster Bay officials, representatives from various local organizations and generations of Bethpage residents as the field was renamed Apollo Park in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.
Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino expressed grateful sentiments to the Bethpage community, as so many residents carry the pride of having their hometown be the source of the lunar module’s creation.
“The lunar module was known as the LEM, it was built right here in Bethpage on the site of the former Grumman aircraft engineering corporation,” Saladino said. “Equipment still sits on the moon today with a plaque on it that says made in Bethpage, NY—something that thousands of residents take great pride in.”
As well as renaming the field to Apollo Park, the road leading to the park, Hickey Boulevard, was bestowed the name Lunar Module Way.
Saladino quoted Neil Armstrong’s famous words as he stepped foot on the moon and commended the work of the many local citizens who played a role in making that moment possible.
“Most of the backdrop for the [Apollo] story played out right here,” he said. “Right here in Bethpage, where the world’s greatest minds worked tirelessly to make the vision of the United States President John F. Kennedy a reality.”
Saladino then called for anyone present who worked on the LEM to stand to be honored. A handful of men in the crowd got to their feet as applause for their work rang out.
“Let’s hear it for them, our local and national heroes,” Saladino proclaimed. “Apollo Park and Lunar Module Way will forever stand as a testament to your human spirit, your ingenuity, your perseverance and dedication. You are the heart and soul of the Bethpage community and you are heroes to every American.”
Town of Oyster Bay Receiver of Taxes Jim Stefanich, worked on the LEM himself. He explained his role in the Apollo 11 mission to a rapt audience; he made sure that information from the module was able to successfully transfer to control room consoles.
“It was an absolute pleasure and I can’t believe it happened and I was lucky enough to be there at that time to participate,” he expressed.