Neil Armstrong, First Manon the Moon: R.I.P.
“That’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.” Neil Armstrong, Astronaut, upon setting foot on the moon, July 20, 1969
Astronaut Neil Armstrong passed away yesterday at the age of 82. The flag that he and Buzz Aldrin planted on the moon fell over after their blast-off from the moon’s surface. But flags that subsequent astronauts planted on the moon still stand. Armstrong was a pioneer, an Eagle Scout, and an exceptional American.
1969 was a turbulent year for America, thanks to the violence of the anti-war protestors and the race riots of previous years. Landing on the Moon was a positive experience for average Americans, weary of the anti-American hype of the war protestors and the salacious reporting of the Vietnam War by an extremely propagandist media. It was America’s shining moment, and Armstrong was the knight-in-shining armor, riding astride a giant Titan rocket, who carried the standard of freedom all the way up to the moon for us.
Many liberal critics decried the space program, which ironically was set in motion by Democrat president JFK, as a waste of money that could be better spent on the poor. Average Americans didn’t think so, however. The critics viewed the planting of the American flag as another symbol of the United States’ inherent neocolonialism. As far as anyone knows, there are no men on the moon to supplant; at least, there weren’t any until Armstrong took that historic first step.
Note Armstrong’s words (after “The Eagle has landed.” ): “One small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.” Mankind, not the United States of America. He was said to be in favor of states’ rights and opposed to America acting as the world’s policeman. Nevertheless, Americans are a generous, freedom-loving people, who cherish their property rights but also honor the rights of others to be free. What we don’t acknowledge is the right of tyrants to oppress people. We scorn hypocritical organizations, protestors, and yes, presidents, who claim to speak for the rights of common people – so long as they, the tyrants, are their new masters.
The American flag on the Moon is not a symbol of neocolonialism; it is a symbol that as long as Americans are involved, all will be free to visit the Moon and explore its mysteries. The U.S., with Armstrong and Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell among other astronauts as witnesses, signed the United Nations’ Outer Space Treaty, formally the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies on Jan. 27, 1967, This treaty forms the basis of international space law. The treaty was opened for signature, with the U.S., the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union as the initial signatories. The law entered into force on Oct. 10, 1967. As of October 2011, 100 countries are states parties to the treaty, while another 26 have signed the treaty but have not completed ratification.
In 1958, Armstrong was selected for the U.S. Air Force's Man In Space Soonest program. In November 1960, Armstrong was chosen as part of the pilot consultant group for the Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar, a military space plane; and on March 15, 1962, he was named as one of six pilot-engineers who would fly the space plane when it got off the design board. A test pilot for the Navy, Armstrong later completed his Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering at the University of Southern California. (He was also a baritone player in the Purdue All-American Marching Band). After retiring from the space program, he became an instructor at the University of Cincinnati, teaching aeronautical engineering.
Armstrong spent his last years, along with other astronauts, fighting the changes in and the downgrading of NASA and its mission. He was said to be distressed about Obama’s change in NASA’s mandate, transforming NASA from a scientific and space exploration program into a political, multicultural vehicle for redistributing wealth.
He came from a time when competition was valued, people were expected, and took pride in, doing their best, and those who were the best and succeeded, were recognized and honored. Armstrong was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Pres. Richard Nixon, along with Collins and Aldrin, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor by Pres. Jimmy Carter in 1978, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.
Armstrong was called “America’s reluctant hero.” Armstrong’s family issued this statement:
“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”