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Monday, August 3, 2020

Columns

Honoring an American hero


Neil Armstrong passed away Aug. 25 due to complications during heart surgery. The next day, instead of this luminary of the human race holding the attention of the country, Snooki’s baby was among the top searches on Google.

Anyone can beat a dead horse and bash the public’s love of decadence instead of the more “important” topics and dignitaries that concern us as a society; it’s a played out motif. However, Armstrong should not be lauded because people view him as an undersold symbol of humanity. Armstrong stayed out of the public eye of his own accord, and that is what makes him a truly incredible man.

For someone who has seen Earth look like the size of a marble, it’s amazing how little of an ego Armstrong had, considering he once looked down upon the entire human race as we know it — literally — and the notion that he wanted to return to Earth as another face in the crowd is remarkable.

Armstrong did not see himself as a hero, nor did he want to be associated with any kind of celebrity, which is not an easy task in such a media-savvy country.

He might not have been the most kept up with name since his trip to the moon more than 40 years ago, but everyone should be proud the first person to step foot on the moon — among other accomplishments — hasn’t made a recent appearance on TMZ.

There are undoubtedly plenty of scientists and other professionals who are progressing our society today in ways we will never hear of — ways that will never trend on Twitter — and who aren’t pundits exploiting their field for recognition. But Armstrong had seemingly more opportunities than anyone around his time to make himself a rock star.

If it wasn’t for people like him, sciences would have a much more prideful undertone.

It takes someone who has truly gazed into an abyss to come back as such a modest person — a little person amidst little people in a gigantic world. Armstrong kept himself distant from America’s self-indulgent celebrity culture.

When Armstrong stepped off the ladder, he said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” He did not say, “One small step for me.”

Whatever unfathomable perspective he had from space, he came back down to Earth with an understanding that self-indulgence was not key. We made it to the moon by working together as a community, not by focusing on our own accomplishments and touting them for others to marvel in.

“Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind,” John F. Kennedy once said about the prospect of reaching the moon during his famous speech at Rice Stadium.

After everything has been said and done, I’m glad that the first man to set foot on the moon was the quiet, unpretentious Neil Armstrong and not Mike “The Situation,” who will undoubtably acquire more search hits than Armstrong over the next few months.

Nick Bell is a media production senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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