Wink at the moon

“In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing when you look at the sky at night.”

The Little Prince by pilot and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (June 29, 1900 – July 31, 1944)

HE took a giant leap for mankind and proved that anything is possible – even those fantastical things that are out of this world.

The first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, has passed away at the age of 82.

The American astronaut was 38 on July 20, 1969 when as commander of the Apollo 11 mission he touched down on the Sea of Tranquility.

He then stepped out onto the surface of the moon and declared: “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”

His footprints are still there today, a reminder of the steps and leaps humanity has made in making sense of the universe we inhabit.

The pilot’s adventure to the moon, and that of his cohort Buzz Aldrin, is perhaps the most amazing achievement known to man.

But Neil was a modest man who was uncomfortable with public acclaim. He felt his pioneering trip was one that had symbolically been made by the whole of mankind.

He said: “Looking back, we were really very privileged to live in that thin slice of history where we changed how man looks at himself and what he might become and where he might go.”

Not even the sky’s the limit!

When asked what it was like being on the moon for some two-and-a-half hours, Neil said: “It’s an interesting place to be. I recommend it.”

Neil’s family said: “For those who may ask what they can do to honour Neil, we have a simple request.

“Honour his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

How lucky we are to have such a magnificent viewpoint from our little rock that floats through space.

And what a joy it is to look skyward and consider the wonder and magic of it all.

Adventures are always into the unknown and are made of the stuff of dreams.

But Neil and Buzz, and all the other explorers throughout history from Sir Walter Raleigh to Amelia Earhart to Sir Ranulph Fiennes, have demonstrated that there are no boundaries when the human spirit is in full force.

Neil’s family also said: “While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.”

As NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity sends back images from the red planet, perhaps the next landmark will be a human leaving footprints there.

It’s something experts believe will happen in due time, maybe before the end of the century.

But that is only possible thanks to the small steps and giant leaps that have paved the way.

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