Tue, Aug 28 2012 00:00:00 E A12_ISSUES
Posted 08/27/2012 07:10 PM ET
Neil Armstrong: The first man to walk on the moon in the heady days of American exceptionalism has passed away, preceded in death by the U.S. space program with his heirs now hitching rides on Russian spacecraft.
We all mourn the passing of Neil Armstrong at age 82, the first man to walk on the moon as commander of Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969.
A graduate of Purdue with a degree in aeronautical engineering, his academic career was interrupted when he was called to duty with the U.S. Navy in 1949 and flew 78 combat missions in Korea. He was an exceptional man and an exceptional American.
President Obama seemingly recognized the greatness of the man and his achievement, posting on his official White House Tumblr account these words:
"Neil's spirit of discovery lives on in all the men and women who have devoted their lives to exploring the unknown — including those who are ensuring that we reach higher and go further in space. That legacy will endure — sparked by a man who taught us the enormous power of one small step."
Appropriate words, except for two small things. One is that Armstrong had publicly opposed the gutting of the U.S. space program by the Obama administration, which has left us no current way of sending men into space except for paying the Russians for a ride while NASA conducts "missions" like a Muslim outreach program and observing earth for signs of climate change.
The other is that if you are going to honor the passing of the first man on the moon, an American, you do not post your words under a picture of yourself in silhouette gazing into the dawn sky.
As Doug Rodd on his Web journal notes, the picture is actually a stock photo from the Obama Flickr account showing the president looking at the moon and Venus on April 24, 2012, before boarding Marine One.
Subscribe to the IBD Editorials Podcast In one of his last public appearances, Armstrong testified before a congressional committee against the Obama administration's plan to redirect NASA's efforts away from human exploration of space and toward more basic long-term science research, a plan he called "devastating."
Armstrong and Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan, the first and last men to walk on the moon, wrote an open letter to Obama, also signed by Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell. It blasted the president's decision to cancel NASA's back-to-the-moon program, Constellation, to focus on activities such as monitoring earth's climate.