Neil Armstrong 1930-2012
Photo courtesy of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
On July 20, 1969, a dream of a former President of The United States of America was fulfilled.
President John F. Kennedy said that this country would put a man on the moon. His former campaign rival in 1960, President Richard M. Nixon, would complete the circle as the mission of Apollo 11 took place.
The Lunar Module orbited the surface until it landed on Tranquility Base. Six hours later, Neil A. Armstrong appeared from the capsule in a white protective spacesuit. A few moments later, his feet touched the surface of the Moon.
It was "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
Armstrong was more than just an astronaut. He was a dedicated member of our Armed Forces leading the way towards interplanetary travel and exploration. His historic step resonates today as it did in 1969.
The Stern household in Reseda was captivated by Armstrong's feat. My brother (at age 8) more so than all of us. At one time, a plastic model of the Saturn V rocket stood in the "play room" of the house. Today, we recall that moment in front of our old color television those black-and-white images from the Lunar Module of the landing and the initial Moon walk.
Apollo 11 prompted us to dream about the possibilities. In a sense, this story relates back to the automotive industry. In the years after the Moon landing, the lessons learned from Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Michael Collins and NASA's support team back on Earth would be soon applied back in Detroit and elsewhere.
The legacy Armstrong leaves behind goes beyond a footprint at Tranquility Base. It captured a generation wanting something other than a war across the Pacific, continued protests against said war and an ever changing society. The Lunar Landing was all we needed in 1969.
In a statement released by his family on his website, Armstrong was "a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut." After Apollo 11, Armstrong came home to his native state of Ohio. He appreciated how we have honored him over the years. We continue to do so on this sad occasion of his passing.
Mission Accomplished, Mr. Armstrong.