“Geologists have a saying: rocks remember.” -Neil Armstrong
Looming up above us, hundreds of thousands of miles away, is the largest moon in the inner solar system: our Moon.
One of the greatest achievements in the history of our planet culminated on July 20th, 1969, when the first creatures from our world set foot on the Moon, becoming — as far as we know — the first creatures to ever willingly leave their own world and land on another.
The honor of the first step went to Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, who took a small step for himself, but heralded a metaphorical giant leap forward for mankind. Earlier today, Neil Armstrong died at the age of 82, and though he is but one man, he leaves behind not just one but two worlds full of memories. He was known as a man of few words, but the ones he said were often memorable.
There was the Earth…
“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” -Neil Armstrong
And the Moon…
“This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” -Neil Armstrong
And everywhere in between.
“The important achievement of Apollo was demonstrating that humanity is not forever chained to this planet and our visions go rather further than that and our opportunities are unlimited.” -Neil Armstrong
Almost all the photos of astronauts on the Moon from the Apollo 11 mission were of Buzz Aldrin, as Neil Armstrong had the responsibility of most of the mission photography tasks with a single Hasselblad camera. But there is one photo I’ve found — that is my absolute favorite — of Neil Armstrong on the Moon.
Sure, that’s Buzz Aldrin in the spacesuit, but look hard. Look closer at Buzz’s helmet; it’s amazing what a partially reflective surface can do when the Sun’s at the right angle.
That’s Neil, back by “The Eagle,” the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, reflected in Buzz Aldrin’s helmet.
For his final task on the Moon, he left a small package filled with items memorializing previously deceased pioneers in space exploration, including Soviet cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov, and Apollo 1 astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. Now it’s Neil’s turn, and our turn to memorialize him. His family released the following statement:
“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.”
You can bet I’ll be doing exactly that for quite some time, whenever the clouds part at night and I can see the Moon. Rocks remember, and so will we. Rest in Peace, Neil Armstrong.