In a week filled with news about the Republican National Convention and Hurricane Issac, other national stories went nearly unnoticed. So it went with the passing of what I consider to be one of America’s most iconic heroes of the 20th century. Born August 5, 1930, Armstrong passed August 25, 2012 due to complications stemming from cardiovascular procedures.
Though I was born a few short months after the successful Apollo 11 mission, I grew up on stories of the space race, of great achievements, and of the bravery of men like Armstrong. I even grew up on Armstrong Dr., in a small neighborhood where three streets and two cul-de-sacs were named for the first lunar team, plus Sheppard and Glenn. I remember how it felt at 4am PST on April 12, 1981, watching the space shuttle Columbia climbing into orbit for the first time. I remember thinking, even then, how it must have felt when the entire nation tuned in to listen and watch Armstrong and Aldrin descend towards the moon’s surface, to exit the lander, and to hear live those iconic words:
“That is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Unfortunately, the death of this hero went largely unnoticed, buried by other big news items this week. President Obama declared that flags should fly at half mast until end of day Friday; yet, I saw few flags flown at half. The first news clip I read on Armstrong’s passing only mentioned he was an astronaut. No mention of his lunar landing, let alone his other great achievements such as being veteran of the Korean War, his command of the problematic Gemini 8 flight, or his other highly-successful career highlights.
For those who do want to remember this hero, or simply want to learn more about him, here is a list of a few articles and sites dedicated to his life and legacy: