Neil Armstrong, NASA Astronaut and Commander of Apollo 11 passed away on 25 August 2012, he was 82 years old. Armstrong underwent a heart-bypass surgery earlier this month, to relieve blocked coronary arteries.
Apollo 11 mission launched mankind on its first step to the stars and placed the first human to step on the moon on 20 July, 1969. As he stepped on the moon's dusty surface, Armstrong said the immortal words: "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."
Neil Armstrong was a the quintessential Astronaut. Unlike many celebrities of today, he did not exploit or revel in his achievements. A quiet and private man, his unassuming appearance did not advertise his success and impact on the American Space Program. I believe Neil Armstrong embodies the term of Renaissance Man. He did not seek fame, yet for this reluctant celebrity, stardom found him.
I was fortunate to have eaten lunch with Neil Armstrong in April 2004. As I chatted with him across the table, I couldn't help recalling the conversation between my wife and I one week earlier. We were channel surfing and came across the last 15 minutes of the Miss America pageant. Miss Oklahoma was being quizzed during the question and answer segment, when the host asked her, "If you could meet anyone in history, past or present, whom would you chose and why?" She flashed a winning smile and answered immediately, "why that is easy, Justin Timberlake. He could teach me dance moves."
Justin Timberlake? I fell off of the couch, looked at my wife saying, "You have to be kidding? Justin Timberlake? She could have named anyone in history. I thought she would say Jesus Christ, Marco Polo, Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldren. Anyone but Timberlake." While Justin is a good dancer, he doesn't hold the same significance toward mankind. Little did I know one week later, I would be sitting down at a table with Neil, casually talking about world events.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren were my childhood heroes. The world will remember and honour their achievments for mankind long after Justin and Miss Oklahoma have faded from our consciousness. Rest in peace Neil.