Fly Me to the Moon, Mr. Armstrong

I pray that Neil Armstrong has just touched down in heaven.

His passing today brings three quotes immediately to mind, two by the moon man himself…

  • “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
  •  “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

And one by President John F. Kennedy…

  • “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”

I’m reminded how incredibly, unbelievably, impossible it was — to talk about landing a man on the moon in 1961.

And then to do it 1969, over a decade before the PC was invented!

I will never forget the live blast-offs and splash-downs

I will never forget NASA’s spectacular color photos that, for the first time, showcased the mind-boggling immensity of space, and made me think that there really had to be a God.

I will never forget the explosion on board Apollo 13, and how the best aeronautical engineers in the world turned what could have been a tragedy into NASA’s most heroic “save”.

I will never forget the gut-wrenching Challenger tragedy in 1986, which happened just weeks after I’d returned to the States from Singapore.

And I’ll always remember visiting Houston’s Johnson Space Center in 1989 with my nine-month-old son.

Back then, it was pretty basic. You got to see how unspectacularly small the Johnson Space Center really was, and how spectacularly big an Apollo rocket really was.

It was awesome, and a man named Neil Armstrong had pride of place.

He wasn’t James T. Kirk.

But he really did boldly go where no man had gone before.

We thank him for that.

We salute him for that.

We pray for his soul.

And we are lifted up by this epic poem about flight.


 High Flight by John Magee

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,

 And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

 Sunwards I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth

 Of sun-split clouds – and done a thousand things

 You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung

 High in the sunlit silence. Hovering there,

 I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung

 My eager craft through footless halls of air,

 Up, up the long delirious burning blue

 I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,

 Where never lark, or even eagle, flew;

 And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod

 The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

 Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.



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