A reluctant hero

Having just touched down in Dublin (not bragging, just sets the story up…), I’m saddened to hear that Neil Armstrong, the first man to ever walk on the Moon, has died.

Tributes flooded in from all corners and as you would imagine, Twitter was awash with people talking about how sad it was to hear. All of us, despite many of us not even being born at the time, know the phrase “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.

But despite all that, I’m going to suggest that Armstrong wasn’t actually the hero I wished he had been.

He was the first man to walk on the Moon. That’s incredible! As my friend Norman wrote, “landing on the moon was probably man’s greatest ever achievement.” It was an event that brought the world together – despite it’s inspiration being a metaphorical war that was driving the two dominant ideologies of the world, apart.

But Armstrong almost never made public appearances.

The man was a hero – we all looked up to him as a real life superhero, someone who had actually gone and walked on a different planet (I know the Moon isn’t a planet, but it sounds more effective to use the word).

His words, his actions, his public appearances could have inspired a new generation to pursue a space programme with just as much zeal as we fought to get to the Moon. But he didn’t. He shrank away from the spotlight and rarely talked about his experiences.

That isn’t to say the reason we haven’t walked on other planets is his fault. That would be ridiculous – the problem was primarily the race for the Moon was spurred on by a clash of political ideologies and once capitalism had won, there was no justification for such a emphasis on the space race.

But I think it’s a shame that Armstrong never became the hero he should have been.



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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2012 at 11:53 am and is filed under Science, Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.