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Monday, September 3, 2012

The Power of One Small Step 
or fare thee well to an American hero 

Everyone remembers where they were during huge historical events... JFK's assassination, The Challenger Shuttle explosion, 9/11...

I was nine years old on July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins fulfilled President Kennedy's challenge set forth eight years earlier to America's best and brightest by winning the space-race to the moon.

Gathered around the little TV in our living room, I remember our entire family was transfixed by the grainy, black and white image of a faceless man, cloaked in a puffy, white space suit, leaving the first human footprint on a familiar, far-off celestial body. I don't remember if we laughed, applauded or cried when we watched Armstrong, America's first civilian astronaut, emerge from Eagle One to step into history, but I do know we all exhaled. The memory still chokes me up with pride and awe. I am a huge sentimental dork, and I am so grateful to have been cognizant of this amazing human accomplishment.

Man. On the moon.

What, are you kidding me? It was surreal to look up at our dusty orb that week and realize there were two human beings perambulating on its surface. Unfathomable.

I think of my immigrant grandparents and their amazing life span witnessing incredible progress from horse and buggy to automobile to airplane to man on the moon. My generation has lived in an era of tremendous technological advancement, but nothing compared to the range of the last century. Even as commonplace as space travel seems to have become, the program still inspires. Just read the hubbub on Twitter the night Curiosity landed on Mars. It's still cool to be a science nerd.

Neil Armstrong passed away on August 25th. He was a quiet man who endured the notoriety of his indelible mark in history with elegance and grace. He was a brave man who brought a nation's dream to life with one small step in an era when the people of our country were united (perhaps the last time in recent history) and still believed together we could achieve anything...

Mr. Armstrong was buried on August 31 under a big, bright blue moon, and a little wink from the Sea of Tranquility.