Last month when I heard that Neil Armstrong had passed away, I paused to remember the time back in 1969 when Apollo 11 was launched.
Being a young space enthusiast, in the days leading up to the launch I read a lot about the crew and was impressed with the composure and the positive, determined attitude Neil and the other astronauts demonstrated.
I thought about the huge risks these men were taking, getting strapped into couches in a spacecraft barely the size of a small station wagon some 36 stories above the ground, sitting on six million pounds of equipment and explosive fuel, ready to achieve the goal set by their visionary president just several years before.
I reflected on the determination of a country to carry out the “goal of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely before the decade was out.” And then I reflected on the life of a man who avoided the limelight and instead simply carried out the task he was assigned to do and did it unswervingly.
I never met Neil personally but had great respect for him as I do all the other astronauts who stepped forward and took the risks they did to propel America to the forefront of the space race.
Neil is truly a hero, one whose life can be a real example for young and old alike in this world today. He did the job and did it well, then quietly moved on with the rest of his life.
Great work, Neil. Thanks for the example you left behind.