If you have not taken a moment to wink at the moon in honor of Neil Armstrong’s passing, you should do so. You missed the last Blue Moon until 2015, but the darn thing’s there every night. Why are we winking at the moon? Well, because that’s what his family wanted.
The truly interesting thing about Neil Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) is how much of an undersung hero he was. Right now our country is embroiled in it’s recurring 4 year battle for identity. Men who will become the biggest name in the world for the next four years are constantly invading our YouTube videos with 30 second ads that we wouldn’t watch if we didn’t care for the content on the other side (and I have turned off a few for that reason.) These men, who will have their proverbial 15 minutes of fame, will be remembered for a few decades. Point in fact, I challenge you to name more than 1 in 4 of our presidents without looking them up (that’s only 11 names, see how quickly you can get there.) Now, tell me a quote from each of them. Long after the USofA is gone, however, Neil Armstrong will be a name for humanity to remember. They’ll even, likely, have a quote.
That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.
You see, the thing about milestones is, they tend to resist instant or contemporary fame. Marco Polo, for example, probably was not a household name during or shortly after his lifetime; you’d be hard pressed to find someone in the West who didn’t know his name now, however. The moon, as I said, is always hanging right there in our line of sight. Every night, for thousands on thousands of years we’ve been staring up at it, wondering what it would be like to be there. Our collective first experience of astronomy is looking at the moon, and discovering there are stars beyond it. It’s the stepping stone to the universe. The first man to actually set foot on that path will be remembered throughout history, but only if we go to the stars.
That quote is a sword, a very well wielded sword that will cut us to the quick if we allow it. That small step, off the ladder of Apollo 11 onto the dusty surface of the moon really wasn’t that big. The implications of it can not be avoided. It tells us, we have taken a leap. The question it begs is, will we continue, or will we fall?
If it can ever be said that it is fortunate when a man dies, the timing of Mr. Armstrong’s death was so. Just a few weeks before his death, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory landed the Curiosity Rover (the largest, most complicated to date) on Mars. The fanfare over this landing was phenomenal, and NASA has been doing a wonderful job of getting their message out on social media. The strength of seeing one era pass into another will hopefully carry all of us on to new explorations beyond the moon. As we take these baby steps in to space, we’ll certainly remember the first man to do so. Remember to wink at the moon, in honor of Neil Armstrong’s next small step, a giant leap we will all make someday into the unknown.