By now, you probably know that astronaut Neil Armstrong died over the weekend at age 82 from complications after heart surgery.
Since he passed on Saturday, practically every media outlet has mourned his loss with the highest of praise.
Armstrong’s legacy forever changed the way we view our place in the universe and set American space exploration on a new course.
His contributions to scientific progress are unparalleled, and he deserves a grand eulogy.
But he would hate every second of it.
Go ahead…I’ll wait.
Ed Bradley, the reporter, was practically begging Armstrong to brag about walking on the moon.
But Armstrong never took the bait. Did you catch what he said?
Bradley: You were the first. You were chosen to do that. That’s special.
Armstrong: I wasn’t chosen to be first. I was chosen to command that flight. Circumstance put me in that particular role.
Circumstance. Not Captain America-like heroism. Not that he was the only person who could. No, it was just the situation he was in.
Armstrong, who flew combat missions in the Korean War, understood he was part of something bigger than himself.
By walking on the moon, he allowed the entire world to take ‘one small step’ with him. He felt connected to — and on par with — the millions watching down on Earth. NASA chose him for the mission, and that’s all there was to it.
It’s doubtful we would see such humility in today’s ‘me-first’ culture. If an astronaut ever steps foot on Mars, he/she will be humble in press interviews, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see that person parlay fame into 10 million Twitter followers, a seven-figure book deal and a global speaking tour.
Armstrong recoiled at that kind of attention. At a 2003 event in Dayton, Ohio commemorating the 100th anniversary of powered flight, he spoke for only a few seconds and never even mentioned the moon.
Armstrong didn’t want the spotlight for what he thought was just a job well done, and it’s a lesson in modesty we should all take to heart.
Don’t worry. When your story is said and done, the press will do a fine job telling it for you.
A statement from the Armstrong family:
“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.”
What will you remember most about Neil Armstrong?
Comment below, and let us know!
August 24, 2012
Feel like you're going nowhere professionally? Here's a royal solution.
August 31, 2012
It's not what Romney said. It's how he said it.