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Memories of Neil Armstrong
August 27, 2012 - Mike Donahey
News of Armstrong’s death Aug. 25, brought back memories of watching him take man’s first step on the moon July 20, 1969. Armstrong, died of complications resulting from a cardiovascular procedures, a statement from his family said Saturday. He was 82.
But that July day I was sitting in the living room of my parent’s modest house in Clinton, watching the feat on a black and white television. I remember it being very quiet outside. Everyone in our working-class neighborhood must have been watching. Not quiet was always professional and reliable CBS-TV anchorman Walter Cronkite, who helped viewers understand what was going on and why. It was a major accomplishment for mankind and the United States.
However, being first to land a man on the moon was not a slam dunk for our country. We had to play catch up. In the late 1950s there was major, and justifiable concern, that the Soviet Union, our arch-enemy, would beat us.
They had launched Sputnik I Oct. 4, 1957. Sputnik was the world’s first artificial satellite. It launched a new political, military, technological developments and officially marked the start of the space age and the U.S - U.S.S.R. space race, according to NASA. The effort — and others —showcased communism and their educational system — especially their emphasis on math and science. But President John F. Kennedy challenged us to get to the moon first and we did.
Back to Armstrong — press reports described him as quiet, a “nerdy” engineer In subsequent television interviews he gave credit to others. I had the impression he was just doing his job — being a team player. And he let his actions do the talking for him. We could use more people like Armstrong now — in business, education, and especially elective politics.