Monday, August 27, 2012

R.I.P., Neil Armstrong

I was touched by the comments at Mock, Paper, Scissors about the passing of a true American Hero - in the sense that the word used to convey, before it became a cliche pasted onto anyone who simply serves in the armed forces.

I was little girl when Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, and I'll never forget watching it on our old black and white television with my sibs -  my parents had tears in their eyes. My dad grew up listening to Flash Gordon episodes on a gigantic radio set in the old family farmhouse, and back then, ideas of landing on the moon were just science fiction. Even when he was a teenager, learning to fly in a Stearman PT17 over the fields of the Midwest, rockets weren't even on the horizon.

Neil Armstrong was one of the old school flyboys, in the very best sense of the term. As a test pilot after the Korean War, he logged over 900 flights. He then joined the NASA Astronaut Corp in 1962, and commanded the Gemini 8 rocket in 1966. He performed the first manned docking of two space craft, along with pilot David Scott. As a commenter on Mock, Paper, Scissors notes, the old Gemini and Apollo rockets had less tech and computing power than our phones have today! Here's the comment, one of the ones that struck me in the gut:

I’ll always wonder, If Neil went to his grave being sorely disappointed in this country. We went from being the tops in science, medicine, math, and industry to being a third world debtor nation in less than a generation.
We set a man on the moon with less tech and computing power than we have in our phones today. And yet, we couldn’t put a man on the moon TODAY if we had to. We literally cannot re create the Saturn V launch engines with the technology today (And if we’re being completely honest, we couldn’t have gotten to the moon without the aid of our pet nazis from Operation Paperclip.).
Somewhere along the way, we lost the drive and the will that made this country great. The only thing we excel at lately it seems is our ability to shout, “We’re #1! We’re #1!” loudly while waving our Chinese made Foam rubber #1 fingers.
We let you down, Neil, and we’re sorry. We didn’t have the right stuff.

Read more of the insightful and heartfelt remarks over at Mock, Paper, Scissors.

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