Sunday, August 26, 2012

Neil Armstrong R.I.P.

On Monday, Big and I recorded an episode of the Dunesteef to accompany a story by Michael Anthony called "Remember Mars," in which an elderly ex-astronaut is spending his twilight years in a facility in which nobody recognizes that he landed on Mars. In fact, the people around him don't believe that America even actually landed on Mars. It's a sad, melancholy, depressing, but ultimately uplifting little tale, and afterward, Big and I talked a bit about the space program, the space shuttle and Apollo missions, and how nobody really cares about that sort of thing anymore (Curiosity notwithstanding).
We talked briefly about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, and what it must have been like to watch the moon mission, then decided to halt all that and go look at the stars (Big lives in the end area of his town, with much land undeveloped, so you can usually see quite a few stars and clear sky, and we tend to do a mile and a half walk every Monday, just for fun).
Well, yesterday, I saw the announcement that Neil Armstrong had died. He was 82, and I responded to the sad news, but my niece had no idea who he was, and my uncle thought it was Lance Armstrong I was talking about.

I often think about the space race, and what it would have been like to be a kid when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and what an experience that might have been. What do I have that is equal to that? Baby Jessica being rescued? When Haley's Comet went overhead and I couldn't see it from my front yard? The release of the Michael Keaton Batman film? The year that dead guy won the election over the actual, living candidate?
I don't know, really.  But Neil Armstrong (as a concept more than as a man) is really fascinating to me.  That a man, at thirty-eight years of age, would accomplish something no one had ever done before (and only a half-dozen would ever do) . . . where do you go from there?
It's kind of like Harry Potter defeating the forces of evil when he was only, what, eighteen?
  Not that I'll ever achieve something comparable, but it is a question.  Maybe there's a story in that.

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