Neil Armstrong is one of those people I always thought I’d meet, somehow. Like Isaac Asimov, he was a man I strongly admired and, as weird as it sounds, I just assumed that somehow, somewhere, our paths would cross.
But of course Armstrong did not seek the spotlight and almost never made public appearances. And time passes, and you wake up one morning and find that another one of your heroes is gone.
My mom sat me in front of the television in July 1969 so that I could watch the Moon landing live. I wasn’t quite a year old, and the experts tell me that I can’t remember it, but I could swear I do. I suppose I could be confusing the memory with rebroadcasts on subsequent anniversaries. But the fact remains: I watched it. I Was There, in the virtual way that everyone but two people (sorry Michael Collins) had to experience the event.
It’s impossible to overstate the place Neil Armstrong holds in human history — as does Buzz Aldrin, whose book Magnificent Desolation I have read and strongly recommend, and who I now realize I am going to have to make a special effort to meet. Footprints from the Apollo missions can still be seen on the Moon, and will likely last for millions of years.
Farewell to a true American hero.