Sunday, August 26, 2012

Neil Armstrong

A good man, a great American, a Navy fighter pilot (VF-51) and the first man on the moon; died August 25th, 2012.  About 25 years ago I ran into Neil Armstrong – or sort of did.  I was sitting in an airport lounge waiting for a connecting flight.  A man and his family walked in and several people recognized him and immediately a small crowd gathered around him.  The man was the head coach of a professional football team that had won the Super Bowl the year before.  I sat and watched the light flurry of noise around this man.  After several minutes I noticed another man, sitting against the far wall, watching the scene, a slight smile on his face.  I stared at him for a second and realized it was Neil Armstrong.  I was about to get up and walk over to him when a small ‘voice’ inside told me to stay seated: something told me that he was enjoying the idea that he was ‘unrecognizable’ while the coach of a football team was nearly instantly recognized.

It is far too easy, at this distance in time, to think that the entire Mercury – Gemini – Apollo effort was a ‘given,’ that of course it would work.  What the NASA spaceflight team, and the astronauts did, was remarkable by any measure.  And the men who flew and led those missions were exceptional characters.  And in listening to them and reading their various books one thing stands out again and again: they all had the highest regard for Neil Armstrong.  We need to remember him, we need to remember what they all did, and we need to consider what they did as an example of what we are capable of if we put our minds to it.

His family said it best:

"Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."



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