Monday, 27 August 2012

That small step, that giant leap

Neil Armstrong died yesterday.

I mention this in a TGirl blog because for me this man was an icon. I grew up during the Space Race, one aspect of the Cold War which was the dominant international situation during my youth. Yet, in that antagonism and tension, with a fear of human annihilation, mankind also achieved some truly extraordinary feats. I am hard pressed to think back through history as to what might represent a greater achievement than sending men to the moon and bringing them home again. And to think that it happened in my lifetime!

Not only have I had a lifelong fascination with the stars ever since reading about spaceflight as a child, and especially after an inspiring school trip to the London Planetarium when I was 8, but I suppose Armstrong’s small step showed me that, with effort and dedication, extraordinary things can be done if you really want them to happen. With hindsight, the Apollo programme was a typically crazy product of the Cold War – insanely expensive with no proper plan to build on the achievement and mainly an attempt to get one up on the Soviets – but one of its legacies is that it illustrated that mankind’s dreams can become reality.

Don’t worry, I’m not mawkishly and childishly going to suggest that I too am living my dream blah blah, nor that Armstrong achieved stuff in some splendid godlike isolation (no hero does – they all have massive teams at work behind them, notably in this case the US taxpayer), but just to say that for me Neil Armstrong represents the achievable, however incredible, and the aspiration to achieve it.

I never met him – he seems to have elected to live quite isolated. But I met Buzz Aldrin, again through school. It was spellbinding to listen to him and imagine being up there, too.

I still plan to get to the moon myself before I die. My boots will be much nicer than Neil’s, though.

Sue x

A stiletto print would have been so much more iconic. I intend to remedy this.

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