Today, the world lost a hero. Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon, passed away from complications from a heart procedure that took place several weeks ago. He was an example of what it means to be a hero, what it means to be humble, and what it means to be an American.
There have been some tweets today about President Kennedy now being able to meet the man who fulfilled his challenge to the nation. I’m sure that meeting will indeed take place, but if even half of what I’ve read about Mr. Armstrong is true, I think I know who the first person he will want to meet. It will be his daughter Karen, born in 1959, who died of an inoperable brain tumor in 1962. As the first man to walk on the moon, I imagine, there are plenty of people in heaven who want to meet him, and he will probably have his pick, but I’m confident that he would probably put his daughter first.
That’s just the kind of person Mr. Armstrong was. A truly international celebrity, he shunned the spotlight. A man whose name could have probably ensured the success of any product, he stayed away from endorsements. A voice that was considered an authority on many topics, he rarely made his position known and when he did it was respected.
The Apollo 11 mission was a historic one in many ways. It was the first time in human history that a person walked on another heavenly body. It was the first time television brought the nation and the world together to witness a historic event. Its success was a triumph of American and technology. It highlighted the skill not only of the astronauts who landed the LM on the moon, but the literally hundreds of thousands of engineers, technicians, and other workers without whose work the mission could never have happened. I mention the historic nature of the mission because it hinged on Mr. Armstrong’s actions. He was cool as a cucumber and landed the LM with less than 17 seconds of fuel remaining.
I’ve seen and read interviews with many of Mr. Armstrong’s fellow astronauts. Each of them indicated in their own way that Mr. Armstrong was the right man to command the first lunar landing mission. History has proven, in many different ways, that he was indeed the right man for the job.
Godspeed, Mr. Armstrong. I hope you enjoy your dinner with Karen.