Tonight, the Armstrong family pays a farewell tribute to Neil. In honor of this event, Mrs. Armstrong has asked that people stare up into the heavens tonight, and wink at the Blue Moon. As you all are certainly aware, Blue Moons come only once every three years (or 2.7 if you want to get technical), so the convergence of the Moon and the celebration of the man could not be more appropriate. Rest In Peace, Neil!
-Neil Armstrong, July 20th, 1969
This iconic statement is the most famous to ever be uttered by a human being and still serve to inspire hope and fire the imagination, even after 43 years. Today, the world has lost one of the greatest historical figures of the 20th century, the man who was the first to walk on the moon and speak the words that signaled the beginning of a new era.
Yes, after decades of living large and inspiring countless people all over the world, Neil Armstrong passed away at the age of 82. According to statements made by the Armstrong family earlier today, Neil died following complications from heart-bypass surgery he underwent earlier this month, just two days after his 82nd birthday on August 5.
Best known for being the commander of Apollo 11, the NASA mission that sent a manned spacecraft to the moon, Neil will forever be remembered for doing what countless people have dreamed of doing since the dawn of time. After years of training, planning, development and testing, he and astronaut Edward “Buzz” Aldrin became the first to not only slip the bonds of Earth’s gravity, but the first to walk on a celestial body that was not Earth.
This achievement, great in its own right, was also of extreme historical significance. Taking place during the height of the Cold War, only six years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Armstrong’s first steps on the moon provided a generation beguiled by arms races and fear with a sense of accomplishment and pride. His words, which were spoken on behalf of, and directed to, all of mankind even helped bridge the gap between East and West. Though there was a race on to see who could reach the Moon first, all of humanity shared in the celebration that a man, any man, had actually attained what many thought was unattainable.
And although he never retired from the public eye after that momentous achievement, Neil was nevertheless a very private man compared to his peers. Whereas Edward Aldrin and astronauts like John Glenn and Harrison Schmitt went on to become public figures, doing guest appearances on TV shows and running for political office, Neil did very little to draw attention to himself. This was, according to his closest friends and family, because of his intensely private nature.
In fact, according to James Hansen, author of “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong,” Neil was often confounded by all the attention and accolades he received as a result of his historic accomplishments. As Hansen stated in an interview with CBS, “All of the attention that … the public put on stepping down that ladder onto the surface itself, Neil never could really understand why there was so much focus on that.” Wow. Humility on top of everything else, that’s the way to go!
Apparently, attempts were even made to try and coax Armstrong into running for public, but he repeatedly refused. Instead, Neil spent his post-Apollo 11 career committed to furthering the fields of aviation and space explorations from behind the scenes and never once tried to exploit his fame. In fact, his last known public appearance was in November of 2011 when he appeared before Congress to received the the Congressional Gold Medal (pictured above).
I think I speak for us all when I say he will be missed, and definitely not forgotten. I think I speak for us all when I say that the remembrance ceremonies and honors conferred on his name will be tremendous! Ironic, considering Neil probably would have refused them all 😉 RIP Neil Armstrong. May you forever walk amongst the stars!
***As a side note, I would also like to say that I hope the various conspiracy theorist of the world, the people who insist that this historic achievement was a hoax, or that it was actually filmed in a studio, take the time to bow their heads and hold their tongues. We are all entitled to our opinions, but such conspiracy theories are not only an insult to history and the intelligence of people who witnessed the event, its also an insult to this man’s memory. Please take this day to focus on something else, like the conspiracy behind putting fluoride in the water, Area 51, or 9/11 being an inside job, k? Many thanks, weirdos!***