Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong - One Small Step...

As a general rule, I don't usually get too bent out of shape when people pass away regardless of whether they are family or celebrities that I'll never get a chance to interact with.  A lot of it has to do mostly with my spiritual beliefs and simply the fact that I prefer to celebrate the lives of others in their passing.  I am the person that will tell a friend I love them or reach out to somebody I haven't spoken to in a while.  We'll catch up, laugh, share a few jokes and know deep down what our friendship means.

So that said, the passing of Neil Armstrong today didn't take me to a sad place.  In fact, I was actually delighted to some degree because I know somewhere there are Armstrong family members looking at each other and saying, "WOW!  What a legacy!"  I would love to be a fly on the wall during any of Neil's memorials and his actual funeral, because I know his family have every reason to celebrate his life and contributions to the world.

I learned of Neil Armstrong's passing while grocery shopping thanks to a socially conscious friend of mine on Facebook.  As soon as I saw the link, I took a moment to reflect on how his achievements along with his shuttle crew influenced my life. 

As a kid, I despised school - Actually, as an educated adult, I still hate it with a passion but that's a different blog.  I remember struggling with math in early elementary and asking myself why it was important.  After all, I'll just have somebody else count my millions.  Little did I know that one trip to the school library in third grade would change my entire outlook on science, mathematics and technology.  I discovered the aviation and aeronautics section of the library.

All that time spent dreading those walks from Ms. Siler's classroom to the library suddenly transitioned into me willing to do anything to get back to that room in the school!  I consumed information like a dry sponge in the ocean and could tell you everything there was to know about an F-14 Tomcat and the F-18 Hornet!  Growing up as a military brat, it only made sense that I learned about fighter jets, but one day I made it to space exploration and Neil Armstrong walked into my life.  

Although my memory is fuzzy in my old age, I remember reading about several Apollo missions and Neil's historical first step on the moon.  Up until that point, I had heard his name, but didn't have much information to add to my knowledge base, and the library books provided me with more than I could ask for.  In fact, I ran through the entire section that year and eventually graduated to reading magazines , raiding the books fairs and making crooked deals with anyone who owned an aviation book I hadn't read.

The thought of leaving the earth to explore the universe captivated me.  It was also the first time I took an interest in other subjects in school besides recess and P.E.  Now, I still hated Ms. Siler and still believe to this day she is an alien robot sent back from the future to destroy me, but I will never forget how Neil Armstrong influenced me to enjoy learning.  I still need somebody to help me count my millions, but if you ever want to know how a space shuttle is able to sustain it's ability to fly upon re-entry without using any form of thrust, holler at me - I've known how it works since third grade.

To Neil Armstrong's family and friends - thanks for sharing him with us!


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