Today is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo lunar landing. Its crazy to think that my entire life has been spent just "knowing" that going to the moon is possible. In the wake of recent flight events (I had flown to Europe on an Airbus the day before the AirFrance Airbus crash - kinda freaked me out for a bit) I can only begin to feel the tip of the iceberg of fear and risk and understanding of one's morality that real adventurers must take on. Its one of these amazing adventurers, who is also a Buckeye, that I'd like to highlight on this special day: Neil Armstrong.
Neil was born and bred in Ohio (where all the great people come from - LOL), he served in the Navy and after a distinguished career there, became involved in aeronautics and this then led to his involvement as an astronaut. We are not at a loss for information on Neil's many accomplishments, but as I am reflecting on his "greatest" accomplishment of being the first person to step foot on the moon, and create the indelible statement "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind", I find that it is his character that I am most in awe of.
As I mentioned above, the older I get, the more I realize the strength it takes to tackle the unknown. You must will willing to lose everything at a moments notice. You must be willing to literally put your life in the hands of, perhaps, hundreds of engineers, fellow astronauts, scientists, even weathermen. We've learned the hard way that space travel is still dangerous today through the two shuttle tragedies that have occurred in my life, I can't imagine signing up for the initial voyages 40 some years ago that didn't benefit from the technological advances we have today.
I also reflect on the amazing pressure that Mr. Armstrong withstood from his fellow Americans and the world. JFK had put space travel, and landing on the moon, at the top of his National Agenda. The world was watching. How do you deal with that? Its easy to say "it doesn't matter" but still, the grace with which all of the astronauts handled their successes, and more importantly, their failures was amazing. This grace has followed Mr. Armstrong even after his space career ended. Like it or not, he has become part of the American lexicon. He is an icon. He has nurtured his legacy lovingly, respectfully, and with great, quiet strength. Even today, he is still regarded as one of the most important Americans there is - and his presence is always heralded with a hero's welcome, and a celebrity's fascination (again, particularly in Ohio, ha ha ha!)
So, today, to the first man who realized the dream of a nation 40 years ago, I thank you Mr. Armstrong. You were a part of a team of so many and you handled the entire process with grace and fortitude. You gave your life to become a part of the bigger whole and you respect that your legacy belongs to all of us. I do consider that having role models such as Mr. Armstrong represents to each of us that greatness does exist - both in act and in spirit. He reminds us what we can accomplish - he reminds us who we can be - he challenges us to consider what we could become.
2 weeks ago