Neil Armstrong embodied all of those pep talks, aimed at us as kids, by a parent, teacher or coach.
“You can achieve anything. The sky’s the limit.”
On July 20, 1969, Armstrong proved those encouraging words true. That day, Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, an achievement that, just a few years earlier, seemed beyond impossible.
For that reason, his death Saturday at age 82 tugs at the heartstrings of millions of people worldwide. A piece of youth has passed, at least for folks old enough to remember the Apollo 11 landing. The sights and sounds of that event remain embedded in memories … the picture of Armstrong in his space suit and helmet, standing on the lunar surface … “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” … And, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The latter quotation uttered by Armstrong transcends those of philosophers, writers, generals and statesmen. He delivered that thought, in that unforgettable staccato cadence as he climbed off a ladder of the lunar module and put the first footprint on the moon. Most of us fumble to accurately recite a pithy quote from Twain or Churchill, but Armstrong’s 11 words flow from our memory banks automatically.
In an ironic historical footnote, Armstrong long insisted he had actually said “one small step for a man,” but admitted his ears, like those of the humans back on earth, could not hear the “a” in that famous radio transmission. That discrepancy is fitting, because we may not know Armstrong’s personal story as thoroughly as we think.
Armstrong always appreciated but never became comfortable with the awe and emotional attachment expressed by others for him. In the decades following the moon landing, he consistently avoided the limelight and opportunities to reminisce about the glory of that one small step. Even on milestone anniversaries of the Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong typically made no comments, and kept about his very private life.
NASA could not have picked a more humble man, especially in the 1960s, an era when astronauts enjoyed rock-star status in the eyes of the public. “A reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job,” his family said in a statement last weekend.
Armstrong saw himself in a far more ordinary light. He once told the National Press Club, “I am, and ever will be, a white-sock, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer.”
Just a guy from small-town Ohio who drew inspiration from the Wright Brothers and Chuck Yeager, and loved to fly. In the midst of their dramatic 21⁄2-hour moonwalk, Armstrong patted Apollo 11 crewmate Buzz Aldrin on the shoulder and, according to an Orlando Sentinel recap, gushed, “Isn’t this fun?”
Millions of us down here on their home planet thought the same thing as we huddled around TV sets, watching Armstrong and the space program make history, in grainy yet indelible images, and realizing the impossible was no longer so.
A shy Midwesterner, Armstrong now an icon
Neil Armstrong embodied all of those pep talks, aimed at us as kids, by a parent, teacher or coach.
EDITORIAL: Preparing for voting changes
The primary election, during which Hoosiers will traipse to their polling places to select party candidates to fill the ballot for the general election, is now three weeks away.
EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news (Honors for outstanding women)
Honors for outstanding women
Sprucing up around the wetlands
You can say that again
Reader Poll results
EDITORIAL: Teaming up to fight the ugliness of graffiti
Graffiti hurts the Terre Haute community. It deflates property values and local pride. It literally paints an image of carelessness on the city.
GUEST EDITORIAL: Despite high court ruling, big money may not guarantee election success
The Supreme Court has taken the predictable next step in the wake of its 2010 Citizens United decision in which it lifted the limit on donations wealthy donors can make to certain political entities.
EDITORIAL: Warm thoughts for Waltman
When Royce Waltman left Indiana State University as its head basketball coach in 2007, there was a sense of disappointment in the community that covered a broad spectrum.
EDITORIAL: Road work season requires motorists’ undivided attention
Spring’s budding flowers, trees and grasses are not the only colorful eye candy popping up on the west-central Indiana landscape. Those orange barrels and pylons common to construction areas are appearing as well.
EDITORIAL: Dangers lurking among us
Hardly a week goes by without multiple stories being published in this newspaper detailing the arrests, court proceedings, convictions or sentencings of individuals involved in sex crimes against children or young teens. It’s a disturbing trend that underscores the ever-present dangers that exist where we may least expect them.
EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news (New roles for proven leaders)
A couple of familiar faces in Terre Haute in the realm of public affairs are taking on new jobs, and we take the opportunity today to express confidence in their selections and best wishes for the future.
Editorial: Fast lane for road projects
Our interstate, national and state highways carry millions of people through and across Indiana each year. Those roadways form the physical connections among our communities.
EDITORIAL: A keen eye on ballots
Our governmental process has challenges at times, but it’s people like Margaret Taylor who make navigating the bumps in the road all worthwhile.
EDITORIAL: More jobs from Casey’s
Local politicians and public officials had been hinting that a major jobs-creation announcement for Vigo County would be made in early 2014.
EDITORIAL: Indiana 641 worth the wait
The fabled Indiana 641 bypass around the southeast side of Terre Haute has been a bit of a haunted project. Conceived in the late 1980s by visionary local transportation planners and approved by public officials in 1990, it’s hard to believe that today it remains incomplete.
EDITORIAL: New jail is right approach
It’s prudent that Vigo County’s governmental officials are reluctant to commit money toward an expert study of how to fix problems at our county jail — which is beset with inmate overcrowding, inefficient design, irreparable equipment and few good options for expanding.
EDITORIAL: Safety on scooters
As the dust settles around the big issues that dominated the recent session of the Indiana General Assembly, some of the more mundane yet important results of the session are coming to light.
EDITORIAL: Citizens have until April 7 to become eligible to vote
Vigo County’s voting process is undergoing a dramatic change this year. Voting centers are replacing precinct polling places, and a touch-screen electronic voting system replaces the pen-and-paper ballot. This represents long-overdue progress, a major advancement in the way people elect candidates for public office.
EDITORIAL: Bike park plan on a roll
If you have never explored the remote reaches of the wilderness area at Fowler Park, you may not truly appreciate the potential it has for recreational use by residents or visitors.
Editorial: Noteworthy in the news (When spelling is a family affair)
It hasn’t happened often, but it’s always a great day when it does.
EDITORIAL: Perfect place for pilot pre-K
National political experts closely watch Vigo County each presidential election.
EDITORIAL: Banking on the future
The largest and most influential bank in the two-state region centered in Terre Haute seems to have a historical affinity for years ending in the numeral 4.
EDITORIAL: Are you prepared?
Indiana is winding down its observance of Severe Weather Preparedness Week, a time set aside to remind us that volatile weather frequently accompanies the arrival of spring.
EDITORIAL: Calm before the storms
Spring, as the saying goes, has sprung. It happened Thursday, as the March breeze pushed temps into the 50s and set up what promises to be a spectacular day in the mid-60s today.
EDITORIAL: A place in the sun
This is Sunshine Week, named not for the approaching mild (and hopefully sunny) season of spring, but to promote openness and transparency in government at all levels.
EDITORIAL: Legal questions, legal answers
When the Republican-dominated Indiana General Assembly earlier this year passed a bill trying to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, many saw it as a small-minded, homophobic, even hateful attack on gay couples and a deprivation of civil rights under the constitution.
EDITORIAL: An event worth watching
Just across that invisible boundary between campus and city, knowledge, perspectives and — yes — opinions abound on topics of vital import to our lives in the 21st century.
EDITORIAL: Legislative session produced results both good and bad
The 2014 session of the Indiana General Assembly was gaveled to a close late Thursday after a flurry of activity produced a dizzying variety of legislative action. Within hours, the session results were being both praised and cursed, largely depending on political and ideological views of government’s place in the world.
EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news
In the competitive and highly entertaining world of collegiate athletics, Sunday is akin to a national holiday. At 6 p.m., the NCAA will announce the field and seedings of its 2014 Division I men’s basketball tournament.
EDITORIAL: Our children in poverty
An important gauge for measuring the long-term prospects of a community is the well-being of its children. For all the effort and progress Vigo County has made in rebuilding the economy and improving its quality of life, chronic problems with the welfare of its children still exist.
EDITORIAL: Meth battle never ends
It’s been more than a decade since local police officials declared methamphetamine as “public enemy No. 1.”
EDITORIAL: Warm thoughts on a cool day (Part III)
• Resolving to praise ISU
• Right down our alley
EDITORIAL: Thinking warm thoughts (Part II of III)
• Renewing a local library commitment
- More Editorials Headlines
- EDITORIAL: Preparing for voting changes