Saturday, August 25, 2012

Thinking About Neil Armstrong

The waxing Moon hangs just outside my office window tonight, and I'm thinking of Neil Armstrong. 

I remember watching the Apollo 11 landing.... I think I was maybe 15-16. Have you seen the film, 'Apollo 13'? The scene where they all watch the landing? It looked just like that at my house. My parents threw a barbecue, and at THE moment, everyone gathered around the console TV, drinks in hand, to watch. The picture was grainy, and at first I couldn't figure out what I was seeing. But my dad showed me where Armstrong's legs were and where the ladder was and the spacecraft and suddenly, I was watching a fellow human step onto the Moon 240,000 miles away. We heard him speak those forever words.... "one giant step for mankind," and everyone fell silent. 

Thirty-four years later, I would work on a NASA-funded research team that placed experiments on a decade worth of space shuttles; I met several of the shuttle astronauts and was even able to meet John Glenn prior to his famous STS-95 flight. Even so, those in-person meetings never surpassed that day in 1969 and those grainy images of Neil Armstrong leaving his famous footprints. What a wonderful, courageous man. 

I'm grateful for those memories and grateful that when I look at the Moon, so much, thanks to Armstrong and his fellow astronauts, seems possible.

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