The Eagle has landed.
Those four words were uttered as a watershed moment for humankind occurred. All the promises that the late John F. Kennedy had put forth nearly a decade before had been kept: the United States had put a man on the moon. This moment wasn’t just a triumph in the long space race between the United States and the Soviet Union; it was a triumph for the entire history of humankind. Space and all its great mysteries were closer than before and it took one small step onto the surface of the moon to confirm that Neil Armstrong was the first man to ever set out on a celestial body.
Neil Armstrong died on August 25, 2012, an unbelievable loss that permeates through the world today. I wasn’t alive when he set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969 but his legacy has made a strong impression on my generation even 40 years after that feat. It’s difficult to put into words just how legendary Armstrong is and, in the process, he truly adopts a larger than life persona that he has spent many years humbly rejecting. Considered the J.D. Salinger of the astronaut world, he never tried to capitalize on his fame and preferred living a quiet life away from the glare of celebrity. While he was much like Salinger with respect to avoiding fortune and fame, he still had the quiet graciousness that Salinger lacked and this endeared him to the people that he met. To me, it’s wonderful that he is capable of recognizing the significance of his accomplishment, but also acknowledge that it was a team effort and that while humans are on Earth, progress and advancements will continue.
NASA has announced that there will be a public memorial at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. on September 13th. I encourage you all to watch this video on the Discovery Education service to truly see what it took to go to the moon and the significance of this event.
Neil Armstrong took a small step on the moon, a giant leap for mankind, and took flight into the pantheons of humankind’s greatest legends.