From everything I’ve ever heard, Neil Armstrong was one of the most gentle, gracious, down-to-earth heroes you could ever meet – a gentleman and a gentle man. For someone who lived through the kind of fame and ticker-tape parades that could turn a lesser man’s head, his was always a quiet, reasonable voice. His most famous quote, taking his first steps on the moon, overshadow the epitome of the man who also said, talking to mission control from the surface of the moon, “I suppose they are going to make a big deal of all this.”
And it was a big deal. Historians 300 and 400 and 500 years from now, assuming we don’t do anything wholly stupid in the next hundred years, may look back at this era – our era – and draw a line demarcing the first tentative but seminal steps of the Modern Age on that date, 20 July 1969. I was born before that date. My parents propped me up to listen to the radio so that, at all of a few months old, I too would hear Neil Armstrong’s famous words as he took that all important first step, for all of us.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Armstrong, among the stars once more.