Sunday, July 19, 2009

local boy does good

As is being widely reported, tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. For those who grew up in west central Ohio, there is a deep connection as Neil Armstrong grew up in the area, learning to fly at the small regional airport that now bears his name. Notoriously shy of the limelight, he prefers to stay out of the spotlight, figuring his stardom is partly a result of fate, there is nonetheless a family connection.

My twin brother attended Purdue University, which is alma mater of many early astronaunts. While he was there and working in the student union, there was a gathering of all the alums who had been part of the space program. He was a bartender for the occassion.

Asking after Mr Armstrong, eventually the 'First Man' came up and shook my brother's hand. Sharing a few stories of 'back home,' the conversation was over quickly. Yet a boyhood hero was met. Kurt said he was as unassuming in person as could be.

Who knows what can come from small town USA?

1 comment:

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

I worked with the astronauts in the late 1990s, establishing a language program so that the astronauts and cosmonauts could communicate with each other (sort of important in space). I never met Neil Armstrong, but while in Houston, I lived with the wife of one of the original Appollo astronauts, and she knew Armstrong quite well. Told great stories, too. The best, though, is one I heard myself. During a launch in which NASA hosted elementary school students, one child asked what goes through an astronaut's mind while on the launch pad. The astronaut leading the discussion said, "Well, you have to understand, when we are on the launch pad and as we life off, we are just starting our commute to work, just like your parents do every day. Only we don't go every day, and our commute is a lot longer!" There are some astronauts with huge egos but there are more who are just "regular folks," as you describe Armstrong.