The death of Neil Armstrong passed away from complications from cardiovascular procedures on Friday, August 24, 2012, in
at age 82. Armstrong became one of the
greatest heroes of the twentieth century on July 20, 1969, when he became the
first man to walk on the moon. As the
world watched on grainy black and white television images, he stepped down from
the lunar module. About the same time he
made a statement that is now etched in stone:
"That's one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind." Cincinnati, Ohio
My husband and I were gathered with several work colleagues in
, to watch this great
happening. We understood that history was
being made, and we wanted to be a part of it!
There was great excitement in the room as we watched him take the first
steps on the moon. We were also
celebrating the fact that the Ventura, California United States
had won the space race with
by putting the first man on the moon!
Even among the joy of the success, I remember the somewhat worried
concern that the astronauts might not make it back to earth or even off the
moon. No one was aware of this
possibility more than the astronauts themselves, but they willingly made the
trip. President Richard Nixon had a
speech prepared just in case disaster happened! Russia
Armstrong described himself as "white-sock, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer" at one of his rare public appearances in 2000. He was not comfortable with being so famous and shunned the spotlight for most of the rest of his life. He considered the fact that he stepped out of the module ahead of his fellow astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin just an accident of fate that did not make him anything special.
Of course, many other people think differently of his achievement. NASA administrator Charles Bolden said, "As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them, remembered for taking humankind's first small step on a world beyond our own."
Whenever Armstrong was asked to describe his feelings about being the first man to walk on the moon, he always shared the glory. He was always aware that his accomplishment was the result of the "work of 300,000 to 400,000 people over a decade."
Armstrong was always quiet and modest but courageous and capable. He remained cool under pressure and did much of his work quietly. He did not flee from attention, but he never encouraged it.
Neil Armstrong was a remarkable man. He was a true hero, both in his accomplishment and in his attitude. He deserves to have his name and accomplishment etched in stone for all eternity!