Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Best of Us

Being an unrepentant space cadet, it is hard to describe my feelings at the recent passing of Neil Armstrong. For several years during the relatively early part of my childhood, I looked forward to the launch of the next Apollo mission the same way kids these days eagerly await the release of a much hyped video game. What can I say? That is just who I was and still am in many respects.

Neil Armstrong was everything in life Americans these days like to delude themselves into believe they are now. In short, he was a true hero on a level comparable with those ancient voyagers who exist more in the realm of myth and legend than real life. Neil and his fellow Apollo astronauts who walked on the moon had the courage and intelligence to travel to place that for vast majority of human history had more in common with mystical Atlantis than any faraway but real location here on Earth. The fact that they used technology that in this era can easily be called extremely primitive only makes their accomplishments that more amazing.

The only thing that surpasses their triumph is the fact that forty-three years later not only can we not return to the moon but as of right now Americans have to buy seats on Russian rockets just to get into low-earth orbit. Although there are several promising commercial ventures that not only look to change this fact but will begin to allow a much wider access to space.

Right after Neil Armstrong’s passing was announced on National Public Radio I heard scores of testimonials as to the effect he had on the lives of other people. One gentleman in his early eighties called in to tell the story of the conversation he had with his elderly aunt the day Neil set foot on the moon. The guy said that in 1969 he was sitting with her watching the pictures being beamed back from the moon. His aunt was in her late eighties herself at the time and he leaned over and asked her did she ever think she would see a man walking on the moon. Her response was awe inspiring.

This lady told her nephew that as a little girl she crossed the continent with her parents and siblings in a covered wagon, saw the creation of a nationwide railroad system, then lived to see the invention of the airplane so no, seeing men walk on the moon did not seem outlandish at all. I pray that I live to see similar achievements in my own life.

Godspeed Neil Armstrong. A thousand years from now your name will be remembered.

Neil Armstrong, 1st to walk on moon, buried at sea 

The first man to walk on the moon has been buried at sea.buried at sea.
 NASA says Neil Armstrong's cremated remains were buried in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday during a ceremony aboard the USS Philippine Sea.
Armstrong was a Navy fighter pilot before joining the space program. He died last month in Ohio at age 82. His burial follows a memorial service in Washington on Thursday.
NASA photographs show Armstrong's widow, Carol Armstrong, accepting a folded American flag during the ceremony, which NASA said included a bugler and a rifle salute.
The space agency didn't give the location of the ceremony. The ship's homeport is Mayport, Fla.


jadedj said...

Yep, he was the real deal. And sadly to say, maybe one of the last.

Randal Graves said...

I can't ever see us spending loot to do too many manned missions, let alone anything more ambitious than Apollo was, and that's a shame. And easy, too: nuke the Pentagon, spend half on folks, and half on some Star Trek, dammit.

Windsmoke. said...

I remember sitting in the lounge room of my parents place watching a blurry b&w picture of Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.

Pixel Peeper said...

I remember listening to Neil Armstrong on the radio as he walked on the moon (it was before we had a television).

Joan Perry; Sidewalk Curator said...

I was in India then and so many kids were named after him. That would be interesting to track - all the Neil Armstrongs around the world.

Life As I Know It Now said...

I second what Randal said :)

Robert the Skeptic said...

I celebrated my 20th birthday watching Neil and Buzz set foot on the moon. Today the possibility of repeating that fete, let alone for man stepping even further into space, seems doomed to history.

That was a time in our history where we embraced the pursuit of knowledge over the pursuit of personal gratification. Our country is suffering because of this change and lack of vision... which apparently doesn't extend much beyond the next election cycle.

lime said...

it is hard to believe we have no manned space program any more....harder to believe than that we made it to the moon in the first place.

Akelamalu said...

Great post Beach! I remember so well watching the first moon walk - it truly was awe inspiring. Having just finished a tour of the Golden West and the route of the California Gold rush I can appreciate the the lady who's memories include travelling by waggon train across the continent.

Beach Bum said...

JadedJ: Got to admit it is very depressing to live in a society where someone like Snooki is celebrated.

Randal: Yep! The military-industrial has the country by the balls.

Windsmoke: It was the talk amongst all the kids I hung out with back in 1969.

Pixel: I even had all the Apollo toys like the lunar module.

Joan: India has a very ambitious space program with talk of putting an Indian on the moon in the 2030's. It would be blast if the first Indian on the moon had a granddad named after Neil.

Life As We Know It; Not all hope is lost, the Orion capsule for long duration mission is coming along nicely and the new Space Launch System (heavy lift rocket) to send astronauts beyond the moon still has funding as of right now.

Even if its cut the guy who runs SpaceX has his commercial Dragon capsule and his own rockets. He even has his own superheavy rocket inder development and talks of sending humans to Mars on his own.

Of course then there are the Chinese.

Robert: Yeah I agree completely. But I tend to bame this shortsightness on the American people more, politicans know who ultimately signs their paychecks.

Like I responded to Life, not all hope is lost just yet.

Lime: Its bad planning. Bush canceled the shuttle with no replacement, something went very wrong with his Constellation rocket although one of the recent contenders for commercial space taxi to take Americans to the space station was the smaller version of that rocket.

Akelamalu: Glad you are back home safely! I remeber my years living out west and want to visit again sometime in the future.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Those of us who watched the TV images of Armstrong stepping onto the moon will never forget them. As I watched, mesmerized, my husband was on the other side of the world. The absurdity of that moment, contrasting the amazing achievement I was seeing with my own eyes, compared to what my husband was going through as a grunt in Vietnam, was striking and bittersweet.

Mr. Charleston said...

My grandfather was similar to your friend's aunt. He witnesses the first automobiles, first airplanes, refrigeration and...

But don't worry, the way things are going, we'll witness the apocalypse.

Ranch Chimp said...

I looked forward to those launches as well as a kid Bum, I remember watching the first step's on the moon on a black and white tele.

Hope thing's are well for ya'll over there Bum ....