This Thursday, September 13th, a public service will be held for Neil Armstrong at the Washington National Cathedral. Armstrong, the first human to set foot on another world, passed away on August 25th. He is to be buried at sea.
When interviewed on Neil’s passing, Jim Lovell, astronaut of Apollo 8 and commander of the infamous Apollo 13, said that water was, for many astronauts, the signal of a mission’s end and would go on to signal the end of life. Armstrong had a long Navy career. Flying nearly 80 combat deployments, all had return flights to the USS Essex aircraft carrier. His Gemini and Apollo missions both ended with parachute deployed splash landings into the Pacific Ocean. When returning home, it was to water. I got the news of Neil’s death by SMS as I was about to deliver a session to a group of new student-staff Residence Advisors at Simon Fraser University. Standing at the front of the lecture hall, I put moment behind me as I continued, but three thoughts that entered my mind; we have lost a very courageous man, he sparked a moment that unified the world, and we have yet to return. I was at a loss for a while to put it all into words, especially since Apollo had been brought very close to us through the interviews with NASA staff for Chasing many of whom worked directly with the rocket. I felt it easiest to express each thought individually: