One of the greatest Americans, in my opinion, passed away today. As Neil Armstrong himself reiterated on multiple occasions, it is not that he was an extraordinary man himself. Always humble, he realized his place in history was one he was blessed to have.
Nevertheless, what he represents and stands for in our hearts and minds is so much of what is great about the United States of America.
Not long after the news broke, I saw the following Facebook status from my friend Jingbo from high school. It read as follows:
“He will be mourned by his families and friends; he will be mourned by his nation; he will be mourned by the people of the world; he will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send one of her sons into the unknown.
In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in his death, he binds more tightly the brotherhood of man.
In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.
Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But he was the first, and he will remain the foremost in our hearts.
For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.”
I knew I’d read words similar to this before. I was unsure if it was from literature or cinema, but it was very appropriate for Armstrong’s life and legacy. One Google search later revealed to me where I’d read the words before: Nixon’s undelivered speech.
In 1999, it was revealed that the Nixon White House had prepared a speech in case Apollo 11 failed, leaving Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in space, never to return home. You can read that speech here.
Powerful words for a powerful moment as we remember one of the greatest Americans of the 20th Century. By many accounts, Mr. Armstrong was a believer. Looking forward to having a look at the universe with him in heaven.