|This is Gene Cernan as he was near the end of the third moonwalk of Apollo 17. He and astronaut-geologist Jack Schmitt had completed most of their work and were just gathering final equipment and samples, putting them aboard the lunar module. At this point, Gene turned toward the television camera and said, "Jack has picked up a very significant rock, composed of many fragments of many sizes and many shapes, probably from all parts of the Moon, probably billions of years old, but a rock of all sizes and shapes and even colors that had grown together to become a cohesive rock, outlasting the nature of space, sort of living together in a very coherent, very peaceful manner. We'd like to share a piece of this rock with many of the countries throughout the world. We hope that this will be a symbol of what our feelings are." Then they continued their preparations for leaving the Moon.
Gene knew he would be the last man on the Moon for quite a long time. As he closed his checklist and prepared for his ascent up the ladder, he said, "As we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave it as we came and, God willing, we shall return with peace and hope for all mankind." Gene Cernan, last man on the Moon, 5:34 a.m. GMT, December 14, 1972.
I felt this was such a fitting and proper occasion in the history of manned lunar exploration that I created two nearly identical paintings of this moment.