PROVIDENCE, RI – Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis is marking the 40th anniversary of America’s first walk on the lunar surface on Monday by inviting the public to view a collection of moon rocks and a small state flag that the Apollo 11 astronauts brought home from their voyage.
“Our curiosity about the moon is a journey that is tens of thousands of years and hundreds of thousands of miles long,” said Mollis. “I hope exposure to history like this will inspire Rhode Islanders and remind them of the remarkable achievements we are capable of when faced with challenges.”
The artifacts are on display in the State Library on the second floor of the State House weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Rhode Island’s moon rocks are dark fragments of stone, each about the size of a flea. The state flag is about the size of a shoe-box lid.
Apollo 11 carried the flags of every state to the moon and collected about 48 pounds of stones from the Sea of Tranquility. A flag and a collection of stone fragments were presented to the Governor of every state to celebrate America’s achievement.
Launched aboard a massive Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 carried astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on their historic mission into space.
In the early morning hours of July 20, 1969, Armstrong emerged from the lunar landing module Eagle to take the first walk on the moon with the historic words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
As Secretary of State, Mollis is responsible for preserving and promoting many of the state’s historical documents and artifacts including the state’s copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Royal Charter of 1663, which is also on display on the second floor of the State House.