Neil Armstrong was the first human being to set foot on the Moon. He made the small step that was a giant leap on July 20, 1969, when he was thirty-eight years old and we were toddlers. Last Saturday, on August 25, 2012, Neil Armstrong died. We are the adults now.
Others of note weighed in quickly about what Armstrong’s life and death might mean, and the occasional headline was blundered (Neil Young? Lance Armstrong?) in the rush to print or post. Thoughtful meditations by science bloggers emerged over several days. Though Armstrong himself was a private man, he achieved a great public accomplishment. When a person dies, as much as that person’s death is his own, its meaning belongs to those who live with that death, privately for family and friends or publicly. It took us a few days to pull our thoughts together and decide what we wanted to say publicly about Neil Armstrong.
You can read our thoughts in “Neil Armstrong and the Space Generation” at The Huffington Post.
Margaret Lazarus Dean asks about the expectations we had of Armstrong: “Exactly how many years of his life do you think Neil Armstrong owes us?” You can read more of what this Lofty Ambitions guest blogger and novelist had to say at “Neil Armstrong’s Second Act.”
SETI Astronomer Seth Shostak added his remarks at “Armstrong Wasn’t Columbus.” Shostak points out, “Unlike the famous fifteenth-century seafarer, Armstrong knew where he landed. He also spent his time in public service, not in jail […].”
You can read about the strange form of life insurance that the Apollo 11 crew took out, in case they did not return from the Moon at “Neil Armstrong’s Life Insurance Came in the Form of Autographs.”
“While I yearned to fly the very latest high-performance aircraft, Neil was flying them,” says Bruce McCandless II in “An Astronaut’s Tribute to Neil Armstrong.”
Friday’s funeral was a private, invitation-only memorial service, but Rob Pearlman, whom we’ve met several times as we’ve followed the end of the space shuttle program, shares the information that’s available at “Neil Armstrong’s Family, NASA Remember First Moonwalker.” This piece lists a variety of ways to memorialize Armstrong, from winking at the blue moon this past Friday to donating to a newly established fund benefiting a Cincinnati hospital to the national tribute scheduled for September 12 in Washington, DC.