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There’s no doubt: His step truly was “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Neil A. Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, on August 5, 1930. He died this past Saturday at the age of 82.
“While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves,” his family said following his death.
Armstrong certainly did just that.
He began that journey in Ohio as an engineer, test pilot, astronaut and administrator for NACA and its successor agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He paved the way for others long before he became an astronaut.
As a research pilot at NASA’s Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., he was a project pilot on many pioneering high speed aircraft; Armstrong flew more than 200 different models of aircraft, including jets, rockets, helicopters and gliders.
Then, in 1962, he became an astronaut, being assigned as command pilot for the Gemini 8 mission, which was launched on March 16, 1966,. Armstrong performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space.
But it was his work as spacecraft commander for Apollo 11 that captured the world’s imagination. This would be the first manned lunar landing mission and Armstrong gained the distinction of being the first man to land a craft on the moon and first to step on its surface.
As he did he uttered those unforgettable words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Indeed it was.
Hundreds of millions of people watched that step as it was broadcast on television. It was a step that heroes are made of; it was a step that showed that man should not limit his dreams.
Armstrong became a global hero. He was decorated by 17 countries and received numerous special honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
President Obama noted Armstrong “was among the greatest of American heroes.”
“When Neil stepped foot on the surface of the moon for the first time he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten,” the president stated.
That achievement should always be remembered.
We should all continue to dream dreams—and then pursue them.
It should be true of us as individuals; it should be true of us as a nation.