RIP Neil Armstrong (1930 – 2012)

JISHOU, HUNAN — There are many people about my age who can remember being glued to the TV set on July 21, 1969, as the networks (we watched Walter Cronkite on CBS in my house) covered the first manned landing on the Moon.

Armstrong steps on Moon

Neil Armstrong leaves lander to walk on Moon

I can remember that July night when Neil Armstrong stepped off the ladder of the lunar lander and became the first man on the Moon. It was a moment of elation for me, and millions of others, because walking on the Moon seemed to be such a fantastic goal at the time — almost like the science fiction movies and TV shows then available.

But we did it.

Armstrong died yesterday after a heart operation at age 82. I won’t go into his life here, because the big media guys have already done a superb job. He was a farm boy from Ohio who learned how to fly airplanes (and be an engineer — a Purdue graduate, go Boilermakers!) and ultimately ended up as an NASA astronaut. By chance, he became the first human to walk on another world.

May we, as a nation, continue to dream big dreams, and then make them happen. It would be the best way to honor Neil Armstrong.

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