(AP) — Neil Armstrong was a quiet, self-described nerdy engineer who became a global hero when as a steely-nerved pilot he made “one giant leap for mankind” with a small step on to the moon. The modest man who had people on Earth entranced and awed from almost a quarter million miles away has died. He was 82.
My grandfather worked at the Kennedy Space Center during the Apollo Program and up through many of the Space Shuttle years, so we are a classic Florida “Space Family.” As a result, Neil Armstrong was one of my childhood heroes. Today, I think the history books correctly point to him as being one of the truly iconic and substantial Americans of the 20th century. The fact that he humbly considered himself to be a hard-working scientist and a pilot, rather than as a conquering national hero, is a testament to the strength and fortitude of his life’s work. He was of a generation that has aged selfishly and gracelessly in some ways and has lost the respect of many in America today, but there can be no disputing the fact that Neil Armstrong was a model of outstanding American citizenship. He was, perhaps, our last great national explorer. Rest in peace, Moonwalker.
P.S. I’m told by a knowledgeable blogger that Neil is actually the reflected photographer in the first photo (Buzz Aldrin is the subject).
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