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In space, science, and technology, there really is very little new news to report today. Instead, almost all the stories are about the passing of Neil Armstrong. On spacetoday.net alone I count almost seventy stories on Armstrong, practically everything posted since yesterday, And that is only a sampling.
This response tells us several things.
First, the small-minded people who have tried to convince the world that Armstrong never walked on the Moon, that the entire Apollo program was a hoax, have failed miserably. The public knows what really happened, and has not forgotten. Moreover, the outpouring of good will to Armstrong and his family contrasts sharply with this ugly effort to denigrate the achievements of the United States by making believe this single most astonishing accomplishment never happened. The contrast illustrates to us all the right kind of things on which we should devote our minds and hearts.
Second, the leftist arguments that we would have been smarter to spend the money on our problems here on Earth now seem very old and tired. The achievement of getting a human to the Moon and then back again safely didn’t specifically solve any problem here on Earth. However, its accomplishment made possible so many other and more incredible human successes in the ensuing years that we would be hard pressed to list them. The lunar landing revolutionized human technology and science in ways that no one could have been imaged beforehand, resulting in a more prosperous lifestyle and a far better world in which to live. And the reaction today to Armstrong’s death illustrates well how everyone recognizes this.
Third, and probably most important of all, the vision of a human striding the surface of another world has inspired and continues to inspire future generations in ways that cannot be counted. Since that night on July 21, innumerable children have decided, “If Neil Armstrong can walk on the Moon, then maybe I will someday walk on Mars.” This kind of hopeful inspiration is priceless, and worth far more than every single engineering spin-off that has come from our space effort. For if we believe we can do anything, than we surely will. And Neil Armstrong proved that on July 21, 1969.
God speed, Neil. We will follow you to the stars.