Did you wink at the moon tonight? That’s what the news agencies are asking this evening. America lost a very special hero today…someone who has done the unthinkable…accomplished a quest that will never be replicated. Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, left us today at 82. An humble man, he shied away from cameras, saying his accomplishment was one of thousands, not just of his own. Seriously, think of all you’ve accomplished. All you could hope to accomplish in your lifetime… However, where do you go once you’ve walked on the moon? What do you strive for after that? What do you aspire to? Not to mention…where will we go from there. How to be Neil Armstrong after that moment? Think about it… Space exploration is a drive that will always be near and dear to me. I’ve always been fascinated by the heavens, its constellations, the planets and the orbit of our planets around the sun. My father worked for years at NASA, his last mission being the Challenger explosion (granted, he didn’t actually work on that mission as he’d just tendered his resignation…you can’t work on a mission once you’ve resigned), but as kids, we always loved when he’d come home with the shuttle’s flight maps and the official NASA patches for each mission which were sewn to the astronauts uniforms. A photo of the moon on the night of Neil Armstrong's death. The first man to set foot on her surface.[/caption] My husband went out tonight to run an errand. When he returned, he said, “I winked at the moon tonight. Did you?” It took me a minute, though we watched all of today’s news coverage, then he reminded me that tonight is a night to pay tribute to moon. So, we went outside, enjoyed an uncharacteristically comfortable evening for an August night in Austin, and just sat to admire the moon. Of course, I had to bring the camera out. My hands are terribly shaky…as always…and my tripod is broken. Nonetheless, I’ve included a somewhat blurry shot of Neil Armstrong’s moon, taken the night of his passing. It had to be tonight’s moon…any other just wouldn’t be the same. So, in the realm of space exploration, where do we go from here? Space station, check…but we can’t get there on our own. Space shuttle, expired. Where do we venture next? Our society has always been fascinated by the heavens. Some 500 years before our time, Shakespeare wrote, on Juliet’s behalf: “O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon, That monthly changes in her circled orb, Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.” Let's hope as a nation, our love of space is not variable, as Juliet warned love should not be. Our fascination with this orbiting mass that eluded us for centuries was realized by Mr. Armstrong in a way none of us could imagine. But our love of the moon, the inconstant moon, has never changed. It’s guided sailors, lit night skies and been the inspiration of many a romantic evening. The moon has, in many ways, been our guiding light. So how do we pay tribute to the beauty of our nearest celestial neighbor and the man who brought us a little closer to her? Go outside…take a bottle of wine…think of nothing, but sit and watch the moon in her path. Realize that aside from all of the amazing feats we’ve performed on earth, through our advancement, men have actually set foot on her surface, planted a flag and swung a golf club. Sit and look at the moon. Imagine how far away it is, yet how close it is as well due to the efforts of our space program. Only a select few in our lifetime will ever say they set foot on her surface, but never take for granted that we made it that far as a nation…and always look ahead. R.I.P. Neil Armstrong…and Godspeed. I can only hope where you find yourself now is more magnificent than you ever experienced in your lifetime on earth…and on the surface of the moon, from which you gazed afar upon the planet we all call home.
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