America Loses A 'Reluctant Hero' — Neil Armstrong, 1930-2012 [POLL]

Vote in our Patch Poll on the legacy of Neil Armstrong's historic first steps on the moon.

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, certainly 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 pilot and test pilot before being tapped for a highly selective position as a NASA astronaut in 1962.

NASA's website this morning 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.”

Share your recollections of the first moon landing in our comments section.

Jon Allen August 27, 2012 at 02:01 PM
I am stunned at the predominance of votes that show a sense of loss over the termination of the space shuttle. This is indicative of the lack of awareness of the extravagance of the original shuttle design, and how many improvements in efficiency would require a complete redesign (which is now in progress). It also is a shock that more folks weren't so awe-inspired by the Curiosity landing that they didn't make the first choice vote on that basis alone. The engineering accomplishment that brought Curiosity safely to Mars is truly inspiring.
Jon Allen August 27, 2012 at 04:22 PM
You got that right (unfortunately). Dubya's Manned Space Initiative was all eyewash designed to distract from his monumental disasters in Iraq and elsewhere, but it still stole vital funding from real science projects, resulting in major setbacks and cancellations (I was one of the many contributors cut from LIGO). Real science is most often accomplished through the most cost effective means possible, which is at the opposite end of the spectrum from anything as outrageously expensive as a manned mission.
MsErie August 27, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Badly designed poll, Jon. What kinds of choices are those? Forcing us to choose between the Space Shuttle (yes, badly executed program) and the Curiosity as a way to measure the program's overall progress on its mission is bizarre, to say the least. How about simply being able to answer "Yes" or "No"?! It's gonna be tough to recapture the awe and wonder of Armstrong's time, as space exploration was still fairly new and given such intense purpose and national pride due to the space race with the Soviets. Space is not largely viewed as that exciting any more (even though it certainly IS!), and Americans are focused on a poor economy and more complex and ambiguous geopolitical situation than was the case in the 60s.
Poppaone August 27, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Do you feel proud of the fact that Americans must hitch a ride on a Russian rocket to get to the International Space Station? At one time America had a vision for space exploration, now, the vision is faded for the most part and replaced with a scientific bureauracy like everything else in Washington
Ed Ellis October 09, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I'm sure Commander Armstrong would agree, sir.


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