Neil Armstrong passed away last week. I wasn’t born yet when he and Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins landed on the moon. But I know the story well.
From the time Max was about 2 and half until about the time he went to Kindergarten, he was obsessed with all things NASA. He insisted that he be called Armstrong, after Neil Armstrong and he called Joe “Aldrin” and me “Collins”. We were, in his mind, the crew of Apollo 11. When his little sister came along we named her Anne, after my grandma. Max called her “Sally” after Sally Ride. He watched history channel documentaries of the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs until he had them memorized and then he acted them out. We read dozens and dozens of books about the space program over and over. Yes, I know the story well.
I am terrified of, among other things, small spaces, roller coasters and going places that no one has gone before, so I can’t tell you how impressive it is to me that someone would have the courage to crawl into a tiny space capsule sitting atop tons of explosive fuel, strap themselves in and rocket out into space.
But what I think is even more impressive is the way Mr. Armstrong handled himself once he was back on earth. He had done something remarkable and yet he didn’t linger in the spotlight or pat himself on the back. He simply gave credit to the rest of the team and said he was grateful for the opportunity. He tried to step aside so the light would shine more on the engineers and scientist in the background than on himself.
In this day in age, with our endless end zone dances and reality shows that make people famous for……what?….being the best at grabbing the spotlight?…… causing a scene?…….saying “oh look at me, look me, please look at me!? And people who do everything they can to stretch out their 15 minutes of fame as long as possible and make as much money as they can in the process. It makes me wonder, are there any humble heroes out there anymore? Is there anyone out there still willing to do something big and important and hard just because it’s the right thing and then skip their 15 minutes?
I was on the verge of deciding no, there is no one like that left. Just another sign of the sad state of affairs we live in today. But I’m really more of glass half full girl. So I decided they are out there, those humble heroes, it’s just harder to see them or hear them because of all the other clowns doing their loud, obnoxious end zone dances, stealing all the spotlight….and our attention. So, we’ll just have to look around and look a little more closely and I know we’ll find them. And when we do, I think we should shake their hand and say “thanks, thanks for doing what you do and for skipping the end zone dance”.
Neil Armstrong studied hard, worked hard, was brave and accomplished something remarkable and then he said “but it’s not about me” and went about his life. To that I say, “Thank you Mr. Armstrong, pretty work!”
“I guess we all like to be recognized not for one piece of fireworks, but for the ledger of our daily work” Neil Armstrong
“This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” Neil Armstrong