|Neil as taken by Buzz Aldrin.|
August 25, 2012 -The reluctant hero has died.
Neil Armstrong, has died at the age of 82. The former Navy pilot and engineer was the first man to walk on the moon. Hey, but you knew that...
What always struck me is that didn't really want to be a hero. Of course, many of the astronauts were like that, they knew that they were just glorified space monkeys. The rocket ship could be sent up without them, or with them either way it would still get there. The astronauts were just a small part of a large team of people getting those rockets to the moon. Indeed, a whole nation can take credit. As Paul Simon once put it, America, was "the ship that sailed the moon." Twenty Five Billion (1969) dollars had been spent in pursuit of the goal.
Armstrong was more than a space monkey-he actually had to pilot his ship,the lunar module, called the Eagle, to safety. They were having trouble with the original planned landing site, and Armstrong, ended up having to improvise a landing site. The fuel supply on the Eagle was getting to the point where the landing would have to be aborted, but Armstrong finally found a good spot to land. So, he was not just a space monkey. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent less than a day on the moon and returned home to Earth. The Apollo 11 mission was the first of six successful landings on the moon.
Many people who were alive then, remember where they were when they saw the landing on July 20, 1969. I don't remember exactly where I was. I remember that sometimes they brought all the kids in school together to watch some of the space missions. Since it was summer, I was probably watching the TV that been set up in my brother's room. Neil actually put his foot on the moon at 9:56 PM EST. The landings were conveyed on TV in B&W and were blurry, but they were still impressive.
In light of our current day culture where you can be famous just for being famous, it is important to remember that fame is fleeting, but true accomplishment is not. I salute Neil Armstrong and all the brave men and women of the American Space Program!