I love the Beatles song A Day in the Life when it starts of “I heard the news today…” It was the song that went through my head when I heard the news that Neil Armstrong had died. I am unsure what my childhood would have been like without the events that not only changed me, but the events that changed the world and it got me thinking…
Where were you when you heard the phrase, “the Eagle has landed?” I know on that day July 20, 1969, I was glued to our old RCA TV and it was a bigger than life. My family and I watched as the small capsule slowly descended and the large four legs gently touched the moon’s surface. I remember my mother saying breathe! I think I held my breath until I heard, “The Eagle has landed.”
Neil Armstrong later would step out onto the ladder and eventually put his foot down on the surface of the moon and say, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” To this day when I watch old replays of this historic event, I get a little choked up. Nothing this big has ever happened in my lifetime, and nothing this big has happened since. We were on a different surface in the universe and man was walking on that surface.
I was sad to hear Neil Armstrong had passed away and I am grateful he lived a good life and was a household name. When I heard the news, my spouse looked at me and said, “This is a big deal for our age group. It changes the face of the memory of our youth.” We both agreed that his death reminded us of our own aging process.
Neil Armstrong was 38 year old when he walked on the moon. He always had an interest in flying and received his pilot license before his driver license at age 16. He started to work on a BA in aeronautical engineering at Purdue University and eventually his masters in aerospace engineering at the University of Southern California. He flew 78 combat missions in Korea and conducted test flights of over 50 types of experimental aircraft before he flew into space in 1966 on the Gemini 8 Mission.
Armstrong was indeed a sky pilot and with his passing, we baby boomers are gifted enough to remember what it was like to sit in front of our TV’s to watch history in the making. I know one day we will put a man in mars and we may hear the same words, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” For today, Neil Armstrong will remain the greatest sky pilot for being the very first man to walk on the surface of the moon.
The world bids farewell to this sky pilot and hope he is walking the surface of any planet in any universe he chooses. For me, I have spent the past few days remembering my youth and talking with people who said they knew exactly where they were, how old they were and what they were doing the day Neil stepped onto the moon forever changing our history. Over and out Neil…
Do you remember the moon landing? What are your memories?