To a twelve-year old space nut, Neil Armstrong's setting foot onto the moon was a giant leap. He made us all believe we were going there. I was one of those with a new smart line, "What do you think I am, an astronaut?" We all talked about astronauts, from adolescent girls to old men, we saw the moon differently and were lifted by the possibility of our walking there, bouncing from one place to another like giant wingless birds. The moon was our new back yard, a place where we would soon be setting up camps, driving dune buggies in our space suits.
Like many kids, I hung posters of the astronauts on my bedroom wall, watched all I could of the launches, landings, space-walks, maneuvers, returns to earth. I built a Mercury rocket, then an Apollo, I built the moon lander, gluing the tiny little struts to the feet, painting the rocket cone, and sliding the decals to the right locations on my finished product. I had relatives that worked at Cape Canaveral, later to become Cape Kennedy, and I pestered them for any kind of space memorabilia they might be able to get their hands on.
But that moment faded, and before long I was turning my attention to less grand hopes, a speedy motorcycle or a cool car. From time to time that dream of space flight might be inspired again by a song like "Rocket Man," or "Space Oddity," even if the songs did seem to reflect a sad end for their subjects.
Still, hearing that Neil Armstrong has died, it takes me back to that moment where, even for a short time, we all felt like we were walking on the moon. Thank you, Mr. Armstrong.