I was sad to hear that Neil Armstrong died yesterday. He was a true American hero and pioneer. He will be missed but he will live on in the history books of the world as the man who walked on the moon and said those iconic words as he planted the American flag on the moon’s surface.
I say that he was a hero. Of course he was. My somewhat limited definition of a hero is pretty straightforward. A hero is an individual who generations of schoolchildren and other more adult people look up to. They are touched by their achievements and strive to live their lives as the hero in question does.
I also say that he was a pioneer. My definition of a pioneer is also quite straightforward. As a child raised on stories of the settlers in the early years of America making their way across a country so vast to find places that no man had seen before, Armstrong fall in that category easily. He was making his way across space.
All the astronauts were heroes and pioneers, and they still are. Like the Star Trek narration states at the beginning of every episode, “To boldly go where no man has gone before.”
I was ten, almost eleven, years old when the moon landing was televised worldwide. I can remember sitting with my parents in front of the television and watching the ‘scratchy’ and noise filled images that came from space of these brave men and their first steps on the moon.
All of us in the room that day were excited and fearful. No one knew what this might mean to the world. We had not only broken our earthly boundary but we’d landed on another ‘planet.’ We were all very proud to be Americans that day. The first country in the world to put a real man on the moon to interact the the existing ‘man’ on the moon.
I do remember, much to my embarrassment, that just after Neil Armstrong had utter those words destined to go into the history books, I turned to my parents and said, “How come we can land on the moon, but we can’t get a decent picture of it? Why is it so fuzzy?” If I remember correctly I think both my parents laughed and then told me to ‘Quieten down’ until the broadcast was finished.
You can read books that were written about that time that have nothing to do with space and a lot of them will have made a reference to that event. The date 20 July 1969 is an important date for all of mankind not just for America. I remember reading a book by John Ketwig called …and a hard rain fell: A GI‘s True Story of the War in Vietnam. In it he tells of walking around the countryside in Thailand and telling, and showing with the aid of matches and a rubber band, local villagers about the moon landing.
Neil Armstrong hero, pioneer, father, brother, man. Like Icarus, he flew and challenged the Gods. His words, “One small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” Will be his legacy for generations to come. Neil has made his last journey, one that has taken him higher than the moon.
Neil Armstrong gone, but never forgotten. RIP great man, we’ll remember you as long as we breathe. I know for certain that I will.
- Neil Armstrong, First Man on the Moon, Dies at 82 (universetoday.com)
- Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, dies (suntimes.com)
- Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, dead at 82 (sj-r.com)
- Neil Armstrong Has Died! First Man On The Moon Missed By All! (perezhilton.com)
- Neil Armstrong Dies; First Man on Moon Was 82 (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- Remembering Neil Armstrong, the First Man on the Moon, with Historic Footage and a BBC Bio Film (openculture.com)
- Neil Armstrong, First Man on Moon, Dies at 82 (pbs.org)
- Neil Armstrong: First Man On The Moon Dead (justjared.com)
- Neil Armstrong, a video look back at a space pioneer (gigaom.com)
- US President leads tributes to Neil Armstrong (newstalk.ie)