August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012

It was five days from my sixteenth birthday at 9:56pm CT when Neil Armstrong spoke the immortal words that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. The date was July 20, 1969 and those words were heard live by 450 million people.

Clearly that date was a while ago. My sense of things says it was a few decades but realizing it has been 43 years brings the knowing it was longer ago than my first sense realizes. “tempus fugit” or “time flees” or as is more commonly said today “time flies”. Yes, it does. And the young and vibrant American hero who first walked on the moon all those years ago died yesterday.

New reports will go over and over Neil Armstrong’s life as an astronaut but few will mention some of the odds and ends that make him more accessibly human. Not only has a country lost a hero and citizen, but a family has lost a brother, father, uncle and grandfather. Armstrong was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things.

He was a “Leo” born Aug. 5, 1930 and his first airplane ride was at age six in a Ford Tri-Motor airplane. Armstrong became a licensed pilot on his 16th birthday before he received a driver’s license. He was active in Boy Scouts and achieved the highest rank of Eagle Scout

His overall grade for his bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering was 4.8 out of 6.0. Armstrong was pledged to a fraternity and wrote and co-directed its musical as part of the all-student revue. He was a baritone player in the Purdue All-American Marching Band.

Armstrong flew 78 combat missions in the Korean conflict and was awarded three medals for his service. After leaving NASA, he joined the faculty of the University of Cincinnati as a professor of aerospace engineering for eight years.

He was married twice, first to Janet in the 50’s and after they divorced Carol became his wife in the mid 90’s. Armstrong had 3 children with his first wife including one that died around age three.

While still on the moon and being congratulated by then President Nixon, Armstrong said It’s a great honor and privilege for us to be here representing not only the United States but men of peace of all nations, and with interests and the curiosity and with the vision for the future.

Remembering the experience of the historical Apollo 11 flight lifting off, Neil Armstrong said that: It felt like a train on a bad railroad track, shaking in every direction. And it was loud, really loud.

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, His family made this simple request. “Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.” share your thoughts at Twitter tag: “#WinkAtTheMoon

I can vividly remember watching the not very clear images on a small black and white television of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. Those strong impressions made on a young teenager then have faded little. Thank you Mr. Armstrong. I will not forget you.

1. Make your own choices about how you want to live your life
2. Don’t let others define you
3. Cherish the things that are most important to you
4. Ignore the criticism of others
5. Stay true to what you believe in
Neil Armstrong’s “Lessons about Life”