One Giant Leap: In Memory of Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong on the Moon

I was going to add the passing of Neil Armstrong to my Nerdy News Roundup for the first half of the week, but then I started writing about him and it seemed so flippant to just add him to the list of other things that happened this weekend.

Neil Armstrong passed away on Saturday at eighty-two years old. He was an Ohioan, like me and fellow astronaut John Glenn. I know there’s the old joke about so many great astronauts being from Ohio (there are twenty-five), the punchline being, “What is it about your state that makes people want to flee the Earth?” But I choose to believe it’s just because we great Ohioans have big dreams, and refuse to be held back by pesky things like gravity. After all, the Wright brothers were also from Ohio.

And so, I was weirdly melancholy this weekend when the first man to walk on the moon died. I hadn’t realized I cared that much. I was annoyed with all the Twitter comments that read something like “It’s a bad week to be an Armstrong!” since Lance Armstrong had all of his Tour de France titles stripped from him this past week. To compare a man who cheated for over seven years in order to selfishly dominate a sport to the death of an astronaut who trained for years to become the first person to walk on the moon and accomplish something so outstanding for humanity is wildly inappropriate. What possesses someone to be so dismissive of such a great man?

Anyway, what I wanted to do was give his death the space (no pun intended) on NBF that it deserves, rather than grouping him in with news about video games and movie gossip that on a day-to-day basis seems important to us, until something like this happens.

I’ve seen a few lovely pieces honoring Armstrong since Saturday. The Washington Post ran a great, five-page obituary. But I think my favorite so far has a been this little comic from an artist I follow on Tumblr.

Now that he’s gone, I like to imagine that he’s like those characters in the Pixar short La Luna that ran before Brave this summer. He’s up there on the moon, passing his nights shifting it through the phases for us down here on Earth. 

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