I am brought back to summer vacation at Ditch Plains Campground in the town of Montauk at the very far eastern end of Long Island in New York. It’s July, 1969 and we are watching a very, very small portable TV, about 5-6 square inches big. It has been stormy and windy and the picture is grainy and blurry. We have a crowd of other campers gathered in our VW Campmobile and attached tent watching along with us.
That night, on a grainy small TV, in an isolated spot during a storm, we witnessed what all the world witnessed, a human landing, then walking, on the moon.
In 1972, a few years after the moonwalk, my father, who was the publisher of Business and Commercial Aviation Magazine at the time, and I were at an Aviation Expo at Dulles Airport outside Washington D.C. He was working, I was tagging along helping to distribute the daily newspaper he was putting out during the expo.
We were walking in a private back area when my father noticed a man coming towards us. My father called him by name and the two shook hands. He introduced me to the man who, at least for me, needed no introduction. Neil Armstrong was gracious and soft spoken in greeting me and giving me his autograph, which I still have.
Throughout the years we had watched every launch, knew every astronaut’s name and knew what and why they were taking that particular voyage. We had met a few of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts over the years as well.
But meeting Mr. Armstrong was above the others. It was a moving moment for me because he represented something true. He represented something that can’t ever be taken away and can’t ever be seen as anything but what it was. This was going outside ourselves. This was our first imprint on the stars. I was amazed then and am amazed now at what mankind accomplished that night.
I got to meet the man who took that first step. That was, and is, a great honor. I have nothing but admiration and respect for Mr. Armstrong and I thank him for his work and courage on our behalf. My condolences go to his family and friends on his passing.
Nothing gives me greater hope in our future that this: if we can, and did, do that, we can, and will, do anything we set our minds on.