Opinion: Neil Armstrong's passing

The Jerusalem Post on the passing of Neil Armstrong, from Aug. 26, 2012:

Whether you were a wide-eyed five-year-old, a self-absorbed teenager or world-wise adult, you'll likely never forget the moment. On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong climbed down the ladder outside the lunar module, and with a little jump, became the first person to set foot on the moon.

Some 600 million people — a fifth of the world's population — watched or listened to the moon landing, the largest audience for any single event in history. In a fast-forward world ... amid the turmoil of Vietnam War protests and civil rights strife, and less than a month before the American counterculture peaked with a display of mass humanity at Woodstock, Armstrong and his crew — Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins — gave everyone pause.

The majesty, grandeur and awe of such an otherworldly event taking place in our lifetime immediately placed Armstrong in the annals of history. ...

Armstrong never understood why so much attention was given to that first fateful footstep. Asked once how he felt knowing his footprints would likely stay on the moon's surface for thousands of years, he answered, "I kind of hope that somebody goes up there one of these days and cleans them up." ...

Describing his impressions, Armstrong said, "It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small."

That dichotomy - man's ability to use knowledge and technology to achieve unbelievable accomplishments while at the same time realizing that we really still don't know very much about anything - may be the ultimate lesson that Armstrong leaves us with. That, and the need to dream. ...




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