Flags across the nation are flying at half staff today in memory of astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon.
Armstrong died last Saturday at age 82. President Obama issued a proclamation Monday ordering U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff at all public buildings and facilities until sunset today, “as a mark of respect for the memory of Neil Armstrong” on the day of his interment.
Armstrong’s heroic first moon walk occurred July 20, 1969, as the commander of the Apollo 11. His co-pilot, Col. Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin Jr., joined him on the surface in the lunar landing craft “Eagle” while the command ship pilot, Michael Collins, remained in moon orbit.
As he stepped off Eagle’s ladder onto the rock-strewn lunar surface, Armstrong — then 38 — uttered the historic words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Neil Armstrong was also a Boy Scout. He became an Eagle Scout in 1947; he also has the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and Silver Buffalo Award.
He did not stand out as a Scout, other than being among the 1 percent of all Scouts to make Eagle in 1947. What he did later as an adult with a Scouting background is what makes him the most notable Eagle Scout BSA has produced. He also was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and the Silver Buffalo Award.
Neil Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, on Aug. 5, 1930. He developed a fascination with flight at an early age and earned his student pilot’s license when he was 16. In 1947, Armstrong began his studies in aeronautical engineering at Purdue University on a U.S. Navy scholarship.
His studies, however, were interrupted in 1949 when he was called to serve in the Korean War. As a U.S. Navy pilot, Armstrong flew 78 combat missions during this military conflict. He left the service in 1952, and returned to college. In 1955 he joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. His first assignment was with the NACA Lewis Research Center. Over the next 17 years, he was an engineer, test pilot, astronaut and administrator for NACA and its successor agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He became an astronaut and was command pilot for his first mission, Gemini VIII, in 1966. He was spacecraft commander for Apollo 11, the first manned lunar mission, and was the first person to set foot on the moon.
The 1960s opened and closed with Scouting firsts. In 1960, John F. Kennedy became the first former Scout to be elected president of the United States. Nine years later, Eagle Scout Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, fulfilling the martyred president’s dream of exploring space.
On July 20, 1969, man set foot for the first time on Earth’s moon, when a lunar module named Eagle, commanded by Eagle Scout Neil Armstrong, landed in the Sea of Tranquility. From a time before recorded history to the present, the Eagle’s image has represented freedom, strength, bravery, courage, promise, triumph of good over evil, spiritual energy, and ultimate achievement. In 1911 it was most fitting that the Eagle was selected as Scouting’s highest achievement award. And it was most fitting that an Eagle Scout chose “Eagle” as the name of the vehicle that would transport him on his historic journey. It is the symbol of Scouting’s best.
Neil Armstrong took one small step for man, a giant leap for mankind… he boldly went where no man had gone before… and changed the way the world looks up in the sky.
From a time when men were men. Brave men. With pride, and dignity. Men who stood for something, and would look you straight in the eye with honor. We need more like Neil Armstrong.