The night sky has become that little less bright as the sad news came out of America over the weekend that the man who epitomises the Man in the Moon, Neil Armstrong, passed away on Saturday at the age of 82.
The United States of America and the rest of the world lost one its favourite and most heroic sons on Saturday, the man who became the first human being to step foot in the dust of the Moon died of complications from a heart procedure.
The 29th July 1969 will stand for all time as one of the defining moments that marks the good of humanity and what can be achieved.
Neil Alden Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Auglaize County in Ohio in August 1930 to Stephen Koenig Armstrong and Viola Louise Armstrong and his love of flying took off as his father took the then two year boy to the Cleveland Air Races.
If anything shows how a life can be shaped by a singular moment in time then Neil Armstrong’s life seems to be littered with single moments that define the man as being someone deserving immortality. The man was in the right place at the right time as the Cold War suspicion and ever increasing sabre rattling between east and west became the centre for the 1960’s space race. After a career in the United States Air Force during the Korean War, Neil Armstrong became the stuff of legends as he developed the skills that were needed to justify President Kennedy’s rallying call to have an American on the moon before the decade was out.
President Kennedy wouldn’t live to hear the words that Mission Control longed to hear as the two astronauts, Armstrong and Aldrin landed gracefully with 20 seconds of fuel to spare on the surface of the moon. The precision of thought that Armstrong possessed stood in good stead as the precarious journey from Earth could have ended in disaster. As they neared the moon’s surface the ship’s instrument panel showed that they were heading for the steep banks of a crater, by grabbing hold of the manual control he was able to bring to an elegant touchdown.
Unlike further missions, this particular quest was to be a brief but majorly important sojourn to make the next phase in humanity’s place in the world. Pausing only to shake hands with Aldrin, the pair only hand time to make history by stepping onto the moon’s surface and make time with destiny with the immortal words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” With these words, he didn’t just shake hands with the denizens of destiny; he showed humanity that the unthinkable and impossible was truly just the use of imagination away.
Neil Armstrong did not enjoy the attention that was granted to him as the most famous man on the planet but did not become the recluse that many thought he had become, like Apollo, fittingly the name of the missions that went to the moon, a messenger and the bringer of knowledge to students in the University of Cincinnati.
Upon hearing about his death, President Obama released a statement describing him as, “among the greatest of American heroes-not just of his time, but of all time.” Perhaps that should read as one of the greatest humans to have stood on either surface.
Conceivably it is fitting that the marks and remains left by humanity’s fleeting fascination with our natural satellite will be preserved, hopefully for all time. Neil Armstrong deserves that testimony; he justifies his memory to be remembered for all time.
Neil Alden Armstrong: Born August 5th 1930 in Wapakoneta, Ohio. Died: August 25th 2012, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Ian D. Hall