Opening the paper this morning, I noticed the headline to the right One step changed the world, First man to walk on the moon dies at 82. My heart skipped a beat, Neil Armstrong, one of my earliest heroes was no longer walking on the earth. Earlier this year, in March, I was moved once again by the famous story after reading Robert Burleigh’s picture book One Giant Leap. I wrote a post about it during the March Slice of Life writing challenge because it is one of the new fantastic non-fiction books that has the realistic voices of the people who experienced the first moon walk.
As I was reading the story about Neil in our local paper this morning my mind was riveted by these words,
“I am and forever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer and I take a substantial amount of pride in the accomplishments of my profession.”
My own dad, an 86-year-old nerdy engineer, will be visiting me today and will definitely be saddened by the death of Neil Armstrong, this humble man who I’ve quoted over and over in my classrooms throughout the years.
“That’s one small step for man-one giant leap for mankind.”
Today I discovered that I have misquoted his famous words. Neil Armstrong has always said that he was misquoted on that day. Neil Armstrong, who has led a quiet, life as a teacher of engineering has said that he remembers himself saying in the moment,
“That’s one small step for a man-one giant leap for mankind.”
It’s a subtle difference, but somehow I know that he would like it if I start putting it the ‘a’ in when I quote him. Today I am going to make it right. I will edit my original post and when I read the book to my classes I will tell them that the people on earth didn’t hear the ‘a’ because of the static. I feel like a precise engineer would be happy with that, remember I grew up with one!
I will also honor him tomorrow by reading Burleigh’s picture book to a group of students. This book captures the intensity of the lunar landing in that exact moment when Armstrong needed to manually take over the module for a safe landing. I think it is so interesting that the computer had programmed the module in a dangerous spot and his years of practice and flight training took over in the end to save the mission with only 8 seconds of fuel to spare !
Yesterday, when I was researching his life I wanted to hear him speak. He granted only a few interviews throughout the years, but I loved this interview he did with an Australian CPA. Watch it with your students to honor one of America’s best space explorers.
PS I know this is a small thing…but I wondered if he had planned his famous quote before the actual moment. In the interview he said he planned it as he was leaving the module before he stepped on the moon’s dusty surface.
PSS More trivia, their footprints are still up on the moon 43 years later because of the lack of ‘moon weather’!