Sunday, August 26, 2012

Neil Armstrong, RIP

In a way it is fitting that I learned about Neil Armstrong's death while dropping off one of the Troglotykes (#2) at college. In addition to my father, there was no greater influence and inspiration for my becoming an engineer than the Apollo program. Actually, it was probably as much how it influenced my father on that July night in 1969 as to how it influenced me.

My recollection of it was recorded first in Troglotyke #2's baby book. I wrote a poem about it nine years after that. A couple years after that, seven years ago, I published my memory of that night:

NASA image
A long day of mild amusement for a two-year old, filled by waiting for anyone I know, holding vigil on the back steps of the farm house, toy tractors in hand. Then lots of people my folks knew were looking for my little brother. The funeral for my aunt, my Dad's brother's wife, was over, but I didn't know that. He was looking at cows. They were big and interesting, and he didn't want to play with me on the big, scary steps.

It was getting dark when we got home. People our folks knew were there, too. Something was happening. They were quiet; kind of like before. It was big.

Dad was carrying my brother and told me to follow him outside. The night was warm. Above shined clear the moon. Men were there, but we couldn't see them. We waved anyway. (I think we did that for my brother's sake.) Barely I caught the look in Dad's eyes. Not a question, more a simple command, "See what we can do."
It was the anchor of that night, the vision of wanting to be able to make things like that happen. I didn't go into the aerospace field when I graduated because it was on the front edge of a major contraction as an industry, but I've enjoyed a high tech career where I've been able to make some pretty cool things happen, invent a few things, and learn a bit more about the world. And I've had a career successful enough (so far) for my being able to send my children to the kinds of schools they are attending to dream their own dreams and seek out their own paths to truth. I know my father would have seen that as a fitting thing. I think Mr. Armstrong was from a similar camp.

Link to video.

Godspeed, Mr. Armstrong, as you make this next small step and giant leap. May the angels lead you to paradise. Rest in peace.

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