Even before Michael Jackson, Neil Armstrong showed us how to walk on the Moon. He was the first and watching that blurry image on my parent’s black and white television on July 20, 1969 is something I will never forget. I was a 20-year old, hurrying back from my parents cottage north of Toronto. As we drove south we heard “Tranquility Base…the Eagle has landed.” A few hours later the camera caught Armstrong descending the Lunar Excursion Module steps to the Moon’s surface. By any standard of today’s space imagery, these grainy and jerky pictures would be considered very poor quality.
His Moon walk bore no resemblance to the one Jackson perfected but to me it was the most thrilling event I had ever witnessed in my young life. Rather than a shuffle with feet planted firmly on the lunar surface, Armstrong and his partner, Buzz Aldrin, hopped and leaped in the low-gravity environment. I kept on thinking walking on the Moon bore more of a resemblance to doing the bunny hop.
His words, “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” have yet to be followed by the actions so many of us expected after that first landing. But the dream lives on as we view Mars through the eyes of a robot named Curiosity, Saturn and its fascinating moons through a spacecraft called Cassini, and the Earth through the portals of the International Space Station.
I hope that in years to come as humans establish our first space settlements that the name, Neil Armstrong, receives the prominence it deserves. I will never forget July 20, 1969 or the man who first stepped on the surface of another world representing all humanity in our reach for the stars.