When I began to write this blog, I did not anticipate frequent postings about the death of individuals I admired. But, in the past few months, I have written about the death of Andy Griffith, Ray Bradbury, the Red Sox’ Johnny Pesky and even the man who invented “Electric Football”. I suppose that when one reaches his or her 50s, it’s to be expected that one would learn of the loss of childhood and adolescence heroes. But, there have just been too many lately.
What can I write about the death of Neil Armstrong? What can I say that hasn’t been said before or will be said in tributes in the days to come? What can I add?
Earlier this past week, I drove down I-75 to bring our son to school in Atlanta and when, on the way back driving alone, I passed by Wapakoneta, OH, I thought of the town’s hometown hero, the man whose intelligence, courage and strength led him to take those first steps on the moon after so many years of training and so many anxious minutes of life and death decisions as he took control of the LEM to guide it away from a rocky field. Now two days later, I look back on his life and recognize that Neil Armstrong was one of those rare heroes who deserved, but shied away from, public adulation. Humble to the very last day of his life, Neil Armstrong epitomized the pioneering spirit of the space program and the adventurous attitude that brings so much to our world while remaining in the shadows instead of seeking further spotlight.
I will never forget that day in 1969. Watching the grainy image of Armstrong walking down that ladder, not knowing what the lunar soil would feel like, going where no man had walked before, is indelibly burned in my memory as it is, I am sure, for all who saw it.
There is not much more to say. There is only admiration, appreciation and respect, for all he did and, even more importantly, for how he did it.
Rest in peace, Neil Armstrong. You touched us all.