Neil Armstrong died today – another in the long line of famous people who have passed away this year. With each celebrity passing, I have expressed my sadness, but this is different.
Growing up, I was always drawn to the moon. It has filled me with a sense of awe and peace – it was God’s porch light. As I got older and learned about the Apollo program and the first moon landing, I was more fascinated. Like many of my generation, I was at one point obsessed with the sixties. The two major events that had my attention were the assassination of JFK and the moon landing. In sixth grade, we had to research, write and present about a decade, and I got the sixties (woo!). Part of the assignment was to write two short stories – mine were about these two events.
As I got older, I became more interested in NASA than the Kennedys, thanks in no small part to Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 and Tom Hanks’ From the Earth to the Moon.
The Apollo program, though funded by government and big corporations, ran on two things: Faith and Hope. And I think the continued fascination with not only the Apollo program, but space exploration in general, runs on those two things as well. Faith in the capabilities of those who make space travel possible, and hope for a unified universe; hope for a future only ever written of, but not yet achieved.
Neil’s passing is truly the end of an era, and came at an exciting time for space exploration. The excitement over the Mars rover is akin to those first steps Neil took on the grey powdery surface of the moon. One can but hope that the legacy he left will continue on for generations to come – that we will never lose that sense of awe and adventure; our faith and hope.
Thank you for taking that one “small” step, Neil. May you rest peacefully among the stars, and know that I will think of you every time I gaze up at God’s porch light.