A personal blog.
I am just the right age to idolise Neil Armstrong. I was 10 on July 20th 1969, and I can remember feeling incredibly tired as we lay under blankets on the floor of our sitting-room watching human beings walk on another world, having been woken in the middle of the night. But I am incredibly grateful to my parents that they did.
I’m very sad today. Armstrong was not just very, very good at what he did, he was a truly great man. It is no coincidence that the most moving tribute was paid by his own family.
“While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.
For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. 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.”
Service, accomplishment and modesty. What a wealth of goodness there is in those three words.
But, like many others I’m also sad because it seems like a full stop on a particular dream. 1969 was the year of the engineer.
The first 747 flew in February 1969. The first Concorde flew in March 1969.
We all thought machines were the future, and by now robots would be bringing us tea as we sat in our hover cars.
But we now know 1969 was the peak. The shuttle has come and gone. We will not go to Mars in the near future, and the ‘mechanical’ machine has been replaced as the driving force of the age by software.
But, maybe because of my age, I still get tears in my eyes when I see classic footage of the main engines of a Saturn 5 light up in slow motion, and I’m still moved when I see a 747 power up at Heathrow.
In 1969 it was impossible to not feel how great it is to be human. And Armstrong was one of the greatest. His two greatest achievements were to land on the moon (walking was the easy bit) and to be modest about it.