Last Step for Mankind

Saturday 25 August – a hero passes over.

It’s well known at this stage that the great Neil Armstrong passed away and took the last step into the unknown.  One last leap.

I wasn’t even born the day Neil jumped off the ladder and stepped on the moon on July 21 1969.  It has been part of me growing up.  Ever so often, movies show or play sound bits from his famous bouncing on the moon.

During the 70s, my parents and other relatives attempted to explain the significance of the moon landing/walking to me many times, which seemed like another fatal mistake by the elders in my family.  I was only a kid and didn’t comprehend the amazing adventure Neil just completed, or even grasped the impact his steps had on history.  Why would I?

The closest I got to the moon was watching the stars at night or using the family TV, which by the way was black ‘n white with only six channels – most of these channels were in German!  Star Trek was probably as close as I ever got, but then again, Cpt. Kirk mainly navigated around the universe and never actually landed on the moon, recording every movement in the Star Log!

But, as I got older and realized what Neil had actually accomplished.  I started to understand how big of an achievement this had been, and can certainly understand why the older generation was amazed by what had happened.

In short; a few guys were squeezed into a small sized caravan, barely insulated.  Or if it was, then they had used rockwool.  They were sitting in what looked like carseats from someones Ford Cortina – sitting on top of the fuel tanks.  The slightest spark or malfunction could set off the fuel, vaporising the crew and shuttle before they could even say “darn it!”.

The power to lift the shuttle was immense and all the guys (yes guys, as women didn’t do these kind of jobs back then) were being pressurised with ridicolous force, squeezing their arses firmly into the Cortina seats.

After traveling a million kilometres at 30 times the speed of sound in a glorified tin can, they landed “safely” on an alien planet.

Without much concern for their well-being, they then proceed to step outside the shuttle, onto an unknown surface with suits to protect them from the unknown pressure and elements.

Neil went down the latter, while the whole World (at least the Western World and a few high ranking Russians) were watching these historical steps.

What’s amazing is that Neil didn’t proclaim “I’m standing on the moon!”, but he unselfishly (and somewhat calmly) stated “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.  Man, if it had been me then I would’ve screamed and shouting, hailing the human victory and saying that I had done it.  But not Neil.

In fairness, they did joyride across the moon in their moon-buggy and they did bounce happily across the moon surface while singing – after they had  planted the American flag.

Afterwards he walked back up the latter and embarked on an equally daring mission – going home – and landed in the ocean where they waited anxiously to be picked up.

On 25 August 2012 we sadly heard about Neil’s final leap into the unknown.  He was a true hero and changed history forever.  He risked his life in the race against the Russians in becoming the first man on the moon.  Neil showed that our achievements are limited only by our imaginations.

Neil Armstrong, you are forever gone, but never forgotten!

Where were you when he landed on the moon?  Were you even born?  What makes people heroes?

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