|Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin - 7/20/69 - AP/NASA photo|
"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”~ Neil Armstrong, from the Moon's Sea of Tranquility ~ July 20,1969
I was a teenager when Neil Armstrong set the first human foot on the moon’s surface. It was a thrilling moment in modern American history, a time when everything seemed possible. Right before our eyes, even the moon was within reach
The moon landing was, in the jargon of the time, “a happening.” Just about everyone my age saw the first moonwalk on live television. I vividly remember watching with my father, asking a variety of questions that he patiently answered. As the astronauts bounced like paper dolls, moving in slow motion across the moon’s surface, Dad explained the different gravitational force on the moon. It was like witnessing science fiction made fact.
Neil Armstrong was a unique hero. He shunned the celebrity spotlight and lived quietly. In 1970, just one year after walking on the moon, Armstrong left the astronaut program to teach college engineering. He lived out his retirement on a farm in his native Ohio.
With the passing of Neil Armstrong, the Eagle has flown. Will America ever soar to such literal and figurative heights again? It doesn’t seem likely, at least at the moment. There aren’t many true American heroes left to us, and the few remaining become ever more precious.