I remember watching on an old black and white television in our living room as a small child, having only turned 6 yrs old a few months earlier, when then President John F. Kennedy, on May 25, 1961 (Listen to audio of the speech here) when he gave the historic speech before Congress where he said,
First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations–explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon–if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.
BOLD emphasis mine.
I also remember being glued to another black and white television a few years later in 1969, with wide eyed wonder, as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their historic landing on the Moon while Michael Collins remain in orbit in the Command Module during the Apollo 11 mission July 20, 1969.
I remember well the historic ‘one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind‘ (never heard the ‘a’ though) famous quote that Neil Armstrong said as he took his first steps on the face of the our own Moon, the same Moon that shone down upon us here on Earth.
Now, we who are still alive in this world, again see Neil Armstrong taking the lead in the final step for a man … a step we all will take eventually.
My heart goes out to Neil’s family and friends, including his fellow astronauts that made that historic Apollo 11 mission trip to the Moon, particularly Buzz Aldrin who was right there with him for that 2 1/2 hours exploring the Moon (likely wishing they could stay longer and explore more).
Buzz Aldrin had some thoughts about Neil on his @TheRealBuzz Twitter account, and a great article about Neil’s passing and his thoughts regarding the Apollo 11 mission and how he felt on the Moon on his own website:
Whenever I look at the moon I am reminded of that precious moment, over four decades ago, when Neil and I stood on the desolate, barren, yet beautiful, Sea of Tranquility, looking back at our brilliant blue planet Earth suspended in the darkness of space, I realized that even though we were farther away from earth than two humans had ever been, we were not alone. Virtually the entire world took that memorable journey with us. I know I am joined by many millions of others from around the world in mourning the passing of a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew. My friend Neil took the small step but giant leap that changed the world and will forever be remembered as a historic moment in human history.
And this from Wikipedia article on Neil Armstrong,
Armstrong was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon along with Collins and Aldrin, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, and the Congressional Gold Medalwith his former crewmates in 2009.
You will be greatly missed, Neil Armstrong; you, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins will forever be in my memory and the memory of the entire Nation at that time, connected with the culmination of JFK’s great commission to put a man on the Moon and bring him back safely to Earth, the historic Apollo 11 mission, and as great pathfinders during our golden space era. Thank you all.
Rest in Peace Neil Armstrong. You will be greatly missed.
Edit: Had to manually add back in the youtube videos which apparently were not showing up as embedded for some reason. Also added Sea of Tranquility Earthrise NASA image.