When we learned yesterday (August 25th) that astronaut and exploratory icon Neil Armstrong had passed away, Zeke and I remarked at how personal the loss felt. It feels like we’ve lost a family member. Maybe a distant branch on the family tree, but still someone who had a profound influence on your life.
To be clear, Zeke nor I ever had the opportunity to meet Armstrong, but his life certainly touched ours.
Armstrong, to me, was like a patron saint of travelers (with all due respect to Saint Christopher). Of course, I know Armstrong wasn’t a saint. He was a human, but a human who inspired a passion for exploration in a generation.
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson put it best: “Neil Armstrong was the spiritual repository of spacefaring dreams and ambitions. In death, a little bit of us all dies with him.”
Zeke and I dream of traveling the world, but Armstrong inspires us to shift our gaze skyward and wish we could somehow see the day when travelers dream of seeing far-flung planets rather than continents.
Imagine sitting with Armstrong, watching the Earth rise over the horizon of the moon:
“I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.”
In a statement issued by Armstrong’s family, they offered a way for all of us to remember him as a person:
“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.”
Godspeed, Mr. Armstrong.