Today, one of my heroes, Neil Armstrong, died at age 82. He was the first man to walk on the moon, stepping out of his lunar lander at 2:56 UTC on July 21, 1969. As a 16 year-old, and son of an Air Force pilot, I was infatuated with everything that flew – airplanes, rockets, helicopters, gliders. Having grown up watching the space race, and like most kids my age, I wanted to be an astronaut. I’ll never forget watching those grainy images that night, as Armstrong jumped off the ladder of the lander onto the surface of the moon. Have a look:
Armstrong represented all that was the ideal in our time…patriotic, smart, capable, upstanding, courageous, true. Well, at least we thought he was true; who knew if he really was. But, it really didn’t matter, did it? Astronauts like Armstrong embodied the image of American infallibility, invincibility, strength, and knowledge, defining our essence as a society. All the astronauts hold a special place in American history, but there are only a few firsts; Alan Shepard, first American in space, John Glenn, first American to orbit the earth, Sally Ride, first American woman in space, and Neil Armstrong, first human to set foot on the moon.
He was a great American, an example to us all. I, for one, will not forget him.