Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Neil Armstrong: A Measure of Accomplishment

The measure of what humanity can accomplish is a size 9 1/2 bootprint. It belongs to Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. It will stay on the moon for millions of years with nothing to wipe it away, serving as an almost eternal testament to a can-do mankind
-       Seth Borenstein
At the Greenwich Workshop, we have had the opportunity and pleasure of experiencing, almost daily, that “can-do” glow of the Apollo program through our association with Apollo XII astronaut and artist Alan Bean. The sad news of the passing of his friend Neil Armstrong is offset by thinking of how Mr. Armstrong’s achievements reflect what we as individuals, a people and a country are capable of accomplishing when challenged.

We look at the astronauts of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo as the embodiment of America at its finest. And certainly, they are. Their bravery was only accentuated by their nonchalance dismissal of the danger of the task. Among a pool of highly motivated and competitive individuals each secured, through hard work, service and sacrifice, their place in the program. He commanded the first attempt at a lunar landing because he earned that right.

But when you listen to men like Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Bean speak of their success and that of the lunar program, their pride is not in what they did, but what the nationaccomplished. The feats of engineers, valve-makers, designers and welders that allowed that “giant leap” are what, in their opinion, should be viewed as truly extraordinary. Apollo was an audacious and public effort that the world hasn't seen before or has seen since. What we are capable of bringing about together far exceeds what we can do as individuals.

Neil Armstrong embodied that spirit. Americans (and the world) recall his first step and his words more than those of any other astronaut. We are saddened by his passing and our condolences go out to his family and his friends. We will forever remember and choose to embrace him as a symbol of the potential and capability of a people and a nation dedicated to a right and proper goal.