True heroes are a rare commodity in the world these days and America has lost one of her greatest. Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first human being to set foot on the moon, died today of complications following heart surgery. He was 82.
The New York Times described the nature of his mission and the importance of his accomplishment:
A quiet, private man, at heart an engineer and crack test pilot, Mr. Armstrong made history on July 20, 1969, as the commander of the Apollo 11 spacecraft on the mission that culminated the Soviet-American space race in the 1960s. President John F. Kennedy had committed the nation “to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.” It was done with more than five months to spare.
He was the world’s hero, America’s hero, and my hero. I do not expect to see again in my lifetime an achievement equal to his. I am saddened beyond words by his passing.
Neil Alden Armstrong
1930 – 2012