From childhood I practically worshipped Neil Armstrong. Yeah, I get that he was part of a team and couldn’t have done what he did without the backing of thousands of other individuals and millions of dollars of tax payer money. But I appreciated the event. Neil Armstrong was synonymous with space travel. The idea that a man placed his boots on the soil of a celestial body other than that on which he was born thrills me. Neil was the right man for the job. He was a near perfect specimen of mankind. He deserved to be first.
Later, however, as I came to realize that Mr. Armstrong is a recluse, despising the lime-light, I realized that it might have been better if Buzz Aldrin had been the first man to walk on the moon. Neil is a celebrity. Neil’s name is known. More people recognize the name Neil Armstrong than recognize the name Buzz Aldrin. (I applaud Toy Story for attempting to change that.) They only do so because he made the first bootprint on lunar soil. But Buzz has the passion for space. If Buzz had been first, he could have run with the First Man image and maybe made the American mindset stick to the image that, yes, we can, should, and will walk on other worlds. Neil could have gone off and hid in his schoolhouse somewhere without any impact on society.
Mr. Armstrong, I’m disappointed in your failure to keep the dream of space travel alive. You had to disappear. You had to become a teacher somewhere. (Or so they tell me.) You let us down. You were privileged to walk in a place that only eleven other men have walked. You blazed a trail for a dozen special guys. The rest of us are stuck here on this mud ball we call earth. You ruined it for us. Why didn’t you continue to sell the dream, carry the torch, lead the charge, and make a way for the rest of us who are mere mortals? You have done a selfish thing.
Thanks. Thanks for nothing.
There. I said it. I said it in a nice safe place where nobody will ever read it, but at least I said it.