Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's most poignant sonnet "Mezzo Cammin" starts:
Half of my life is gone, and I have let
The years slip from me and have not fulfilled
The aspiration of my youth, [...]
Those select few among us who can claim that this does not apply to them are really lucky. Among them is Neil Armstrong, who, in July 20, 1969 became the first human to set foot on the Moon - the culmination of the greatest scientific venture ever undertaken by man and the most significant single event in human history.
Of course, I don't know whether Neil Armstrong's childhood dream was to fly to the Moon. Back in the 1930s, the very concept of spaceflight must have appeared like a mere flight of fantasy. Certainly nothing sensible people should take seriously. But guess what? A mere three decades later, Gagarin's first space flight proved the sensible people wrong. Dreamers 1, realists 0.
Neil Alden Armstrong was born on August 5, 1930 near Wapakoneta (wherever that is), Ohio, United States of America, The Earth, the Solar System, the Orion branch, the Milky Way, the Universe. That makes him 38 when he entered the history books.
Today, August 5, 2010, over 41 years later, Armstrong turned 80 and that 7 year old boy who, back in the summer of 1969, wheedled and cajoled and used every trick in the book to get his Mom to allow him to stay up late and watch the first Moon landing on TV still hasn't flown to space and probably never will. But flying into space sure has been the aspiration of my youth.
Happy birthday, Neil. Man, I envy you.
And, in case I forgot to say it back then, or ever since: Thanks, Mom. For everything.
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