July 16, 1969. On that date, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins boarded the Apollo 11 craft that would take them to the moon. Four days later, on July 20,1969, Armstrong and Aldrin landed the Eagle on the surface of the moon.
Armstrong, as commander of the mission, got the honor of being the first human being to set foot on another celestial body. His comments, as he did so, will forever be etched in the minds of humans. “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Those words were written prior to his footprints being implanted on the moon. Written prior to the launch of Apollo 11. Even through the static in the transmission, the words had a very symbolic meaning.
As he took his moment in history, Armstrong was more concerned with accomplishing his mission than what it meant for human history. And, once he returned to earth, he did not let his new found fame go to his head. Instead of doing endless appearances, book deals, movie deals, etc., Mr. Armstrong went back to Ohio and became a aerospace professor at the University of Cincinnati for nearly a decade.
The journey to the moon was a decade long challenge for the nation, NASA and people like Armstrong. Indeed, in 1957, the former Soviet Union put the first man made satellite in orbit, Sputnik. Sputnik scared the nation into space. four years later, President Kennedy challenged the nation to put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth.
Armstrong and Aldrin fulfilled Kennedy’s challenge-with the help of thousands of people-and spent more than three hours roaming around the moon. Armstrong placed a patch on the moon to commemorate the astronauts and cosmonauts who lost their lives while serving their respective space programs.
Armstrong’s last public appearance came in 2010 when he voiced his concern about the cuts to the program that President Obama had ordered.
Armstrong passed away August 25, 2012. He was 82 years old. Godspeed, Neil.