Among the 650 million people worldwide watching the moon landing, 6-year-old Mary Jo Pope stared wide-eyed at the TV screen, holding hands with three other kids, all of them afraid.
Pope was living in Spain at the time, and her uncle kept talking about how the United States was landing on the moon, and that soon, Americans would take over the world.
“Everybody was talking about it, but I had no idea what it was — I was 6 years old,” said Pope, now 56 and a PACT team supervisor/triage coordinator at Carl Albert Community Mental Health Center.
Pope said “for the longest time, I really was afraid of American people” after hearing adults speculate what the future might hold.
Despite her fear, Pope described watching the astronauts bouncing on the moon as “magical.”
Five years after the moon landing, Pope had come to look at the U.S. as a role model country with endless opportunities and was amazed by the moon landing.
“(The U.S.) had everything,” Pope said. “To other countries, it’s like, ‘Wow, they’re going to the moon. What’s next?’”
At 11 years old, Pope and her family came to the U.S., and by then, she “was excited to come the country that landed men on the moon.”