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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong, 1930-2012

Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon - first human being to make the journey from Earth to another celestial body - has died. 

The news hit me like a kick to the stomach just moments ago. It was only yesterday or the day before that I said to Sylvia, "It's going to be a terrible day when Neil Armstrong dies." I had no inkling that day would come so very quickly.

I was barely six months old when Armstrong made his small step and giant leap on Luna, but my parents tell me that I was awake and watching the live broadcast at that historic moment. I like to imagine that my lifelong passion for space exploration and science fiction began at the instant Armstrong's foot touched the lunar regolith.

Over the years I've read dozens of books about the American space program, and in each of them Neil Armstrong comes across as an enigmatic figure: immensely private, completely dedicated and professional, superhumanly cool under pressure, a gifted pilot and engineer. Armstrong famously retired from public life after his moon mission, appearing publicly only rarely. And yet despite his refusal to exploit his initial fame, Armstrong remains a key figure in history, one likely to be remembered centuries from now if we choose to follow those Lunar footsteps and build a better tomorrow among the stars.

Neil Armstrong's bravery and humility have inspired me and millions of others for decades. He was the first man to touch the nearest shore of the vast ocean that is the final frontier, and while others will go further and fly faster, he was the first. Neil Armstrong inspired me to look to the stars in wonder, and I'll be forever grateful for his heroic example. Wherever he's headed now, he'll go in peace, for all mankind.

Framed copy of the Flin Flon Reminder of July 21, 1969, currently hanging in our theatre room.

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