Sunday, August 26, 2012

One small step for a man

America of course is busy idolizing and idealizing the late Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon. It's what we do, alas. But somewhere in the empyrean reserved for singular history-makers, Armstrong is probably shaking his head in polite bewilderment. The best thing about this guy, post-moonwalk, was his dedicated refusal to indulge in glory's recompense, the heroin-like elixir to which the lionized usually succumb (think Charles Lindbergh). Armstrong knew he was just a man, albeit a lucky one, like any other man, with all of the contradictions that connotes. Legend has it that Armstrong believed history misconstrued his now famous words. The world heard what it wanted, or needed, to hear when the astronaut first put boot to lunar soil. By his telling, Armstrong meant to convey, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." It's a trifling detail in the great scheme of things. But given his admirable humility since that momentous event, it is in perfect accord with Armstrong, the man.

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