On the Passing of Neil Armstrong

High Flight 

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor even eagle flew.
And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space...
...put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

--by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

My Tribute to a Hero
Neil Armstrong

By now, everyone must know that Neil died today. He was eighty-two. Can you believe it? I can still remember where I was when he took those first steps on the surface of the moon. I was at camp, yeah, a camp for blind kids in California. The camp directors had gone and rented two TV’s for the event, and they said they got some funny looks from the store when the sales people heard they were renting it for a camp full of blind kids. But we were there, spellbound, listening with all our might for those first words from another world.
I was just about twelve at that time, and my head and heart were all caught up in the Beatles, Credence Clearwater Revival, wishing I was old enough to protest the war in Vietnam, peace signs and incense. and, starting junior high! I wasn’t completely wrapped up in the space program back then, except to marvel at what they had done. Wow, Man, someone had walked on the moon! Far Out!!! “really far out” as my dad would have teased.
I became interested in the space program about fifteen or twenty years ago. I’ve read all I can get my hands on, own the movies, and as I said earlier today, Apollo 13 is one of my favorite movies. It’s in the top five actually. And now I wonder, when did we lose it, humankind’s love of exploration? Will we never venture farther than earth orbit again? Is there anyone to dream big enough to start the movement back to space? Will I die before that happens? Now that I’m old enough and fascinated enough to be eager for it, where are those who will dream the dream, those who will make it happen and those who will go? Where are the leaders who will put their hearts and effort behind it?
For one moment in time, the entire world was united in wonder, as Neil Armstrong talked about small steps and giant leaps. What will unite us again? In wonder and excitement, not in sorrow and dismay?
Where do I sign up? If they want fifty-four-year-old, blind with other disabilities volunteers, where do I sign up? Beam me up, Scotty, I want to go! Even if it’s just from the comfort of my living room and my imagination.
I think I’ll take a break from my marathon of old west wing episodes and have a star trek marathon tonight in honor of Neil Armstrong and all the real heroes of space.
God speed Neil Armstrong.


  1. It is rather amazing in our lifetime we have seen dogs, monkeys and men go into the skies...the unknown frontier. We competed with other countries to be better, to be first and we got a man on the moon. Now we are going into space in Russian ships. I like the idea of working together, but do mourn the passing of our space program.

    I too, watched the lunar landing and the first words of Neil Armstrong. It was a great leap for mankind and it did bring us all together for a moment in time.

    "Second star to the right, and straight on till morning." Seems fitting to end with a quote from James Kirk and Sir James Barry...Armstrong was a quiet hero. One to be admired.

    1. I, too, mourn the space program. The rovers are doing incredible things, but we seem to have lost some of our sense of wonder and the drive to explore, to "Go where no man has gone before."

      It's one of my greatest regrets that I was born too early in mankind's history to ever get the chance to stand on Mars and view those savagely beautiful, desolate red plains with my own eyes. And the longer we shelve manned space flight, the longer that dream is delayed for future generations.


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