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Moonwalker Neil Armstrong's Space Legacy

Does America still have 'The Right Stuff' when it comes to space exploration? Neil Armstrong's death Saturday reminds us of a more courageous time.

His family called him "A reluctant American hero" who was just doing his job.

But Neil A. Armstrong, who died Saturday of complications from heart bypass surgery, was a hero.

He was just shy of his 39th birthday when he lumbered down the ladder from the Apollo 11 spacecraft and stepped onto the stark lunar landscape on July 20, 1969.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," he said as Americans around the country watched in awe at the live footage from dark space, so far away.

That step fulfilled a challenge President John F. Kennedy issued in the early 1960s —to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

Armstrong began his career as a Navy fighter and test pilot before being tapped for a highly selective position as a NASA astronaut in 1962.

NASA's website features a photo of Armstrong in his flight suit, with a simple "Neil Armstrong, 1930-2012."

“He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits," his family said in a statement released by NASA.

And his family has one request for the American people.

"Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

Robert J. Pape, Jr. August 26, 2012 at 06:44 PM
A wink indeed along with the thanks from a grateful nation.
Jason Molinet August 26, 2012 at 07:55 PM
No manned flight feels like a step back, but then again we're using drones where fighter pilots once roamed.
George Mulligan August 26, 2012 at 09:10 PM
What an exciting time the decade of the '60's was. I remember watching on a black and white TV in grammar school when Alan Sheperd became the first man in space. Then not long after that John Glenn became the first man to orbit the earth. But Neil Armstrong's accomplishment surpassed these two men. It was such an historic moment in America's history. At that time we young Americans thought there was nothing we couldn't do if we put our mind to it. I think times have changed, and not for the better. The optimism created by these heroes has been replaced by a general pessimism and malaise.
Rebecca August 26, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Dear Tea Party members: Lest you forget, no corporate hack put Neil Armstrong on the moon. It was the hard work of hundreds of thousands of federally-funded, well-paid Long Island engineers. Our tax dollars at that time went for national pride, not to mention supporting our entire middle class economy. I wish Mr. Armstrong hadn't been "quite" so modest... maybe we wouldn't be in the mess we're in, if people like him had given support to something we still so desperately need. RIP Mr. Armstrong.
Pat August 26, 2012 at 09:48 PM
That's because the media doesn't highlight the true heroes any longer...the media focuses on athletes, politicians, Hollywood celebrities, and many in our own communities who are focused on one thing...personal gain and lifestyles that hold little in the way of moral values. And I am not a tea party'er...
Joe August 26, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Truly one of America's real hero's. A very intelligent and humble human being. Rest in peace Neil Armstrong...besides our military boys no one can come close today to your heroic accomplishments. America is now infested with accountants, lawyers, brokers and any other scum you can think of. Just imagine where we would be if America had continued to produce guys like Armstrong. It is a sad day but let us forget where America is today and let us pray for this true American hero.
david stevens August 27, 2012 at 10:08 AM
Mr. Mulligan is correct. It was such an historic moment for America and the world. We should have been on Mars by now. But the political climate said otherwise. I don't think America will ever get her glow back until there is a new spirit of nationalism. Right now the country is run by people who make being an American a sin. How wrong is that. America was given to us by God and we have squandered what was given us.
David P. Redmond August 27, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Seems like we shouldn't have completely dropped the shuttle program until there was a viable replacement, however, the successful Mars missions are encouraging.
hypocrite August 27, 2012 at 01:15 PM
So,you can put your SON/DAUGHTER behind the controls of a fighter jet in harms way.........
SLJ August 27, 2012 at 01:57 PM
As a 12 year old at the time, 1969 was an incredible year--Mets, Jets, Knicks, and Neil....Neil being the headliner to everything else. It also took the attention away from the war and all the crazy protests, riots, and all the other depressing news you would see on T.V.
Old Fisherman August 27, 2012 at 05:47 PM
There was a story told at a Neil Armstrong luncheon by the honoree. It seems that on the return to earth there was a strange transmission that no one paid attention to at the time.It seems then when he was a kid and playing baseball the ball was hit into the neighboring yard belonging to the Kozlowskis. it was under a bedroom window and Neil heard Mr Kozlowski trying to seduce Mrs. Kozlowski. She had remarked that, The next time you get sex is when a man walks on the moon." On the return trip from the moon that transmission that no one paid attention to at the time was "Good Luck, Mr. Kozlowski." Neil had waited till Mr. Kozlowski had passed on to tell the story.
Old Fisherman August 27, 2012 at 07:27 PM
I regret that we had to turn the space lab transportation system to the Russians. There should have been a replacement shuttle available to retrofit the program.
George Mulligan August 27, 2012 at 07:36 PM
You are so right Jesse. '69 was the year of the "Miracle" Mets, Joe Willy Namath and the Jets and that great Knick team with Willis Reed and company. Of course as you say, we were immersed in the war in Vietnam, and we had suffered the assaination of JFK, and MLK. So every era has good and bad. But the space program did take the spotlight off of some of the bad.
George Mulligan August 27, 2012 at 07:37 PM
That is a great story. Thank's for a good laugh.
Old Fisherman August 27, 2012 at 08:22 PM
hypocrite...the drone and the fighter have different goals and operational purposes and requirements. I would be proud if my son or daughter was a fighter pilot. There are situations where drones could never supplant a fighter.
John Neillands August 28, 2012 at 11:30 AM
To all the former Glen Cove Grumman employees who worked so hard an with such pride in the Apollo program that led to the successful touchdown on the moon by the crew of Apolllo 11 ,Collins, Aldrin,and Armstrong Thanks
FYI August 28, 2012 at 03:36 PM
I listened to a commentary yesterday describing recently revealed statements from Armstrong. One of them was that he had only minuscule expectations of ever returning safely back to earth again. As a former military man, their mission was to perform the task despite the tremendous risks. Even though every step had been practiced hundreds of times prior to the flight, there were so many unknown variables that could change the outcome. When asked why he then chose to go, he stated "I did it for my country". That defines the type of man Neil Armstrong was.
FYI August 28, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Stuff it Rebecca. Your bitterness and vitriol is inappropriate.

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