There are only twelve men, all American, who have ever walked on the moon. Some are no longer with us: Pete Conrad, Alan Shepherd, Jim Irwin.
There are of course a lot of folks who would have made a big deal out of being “the first man on the moon.” Not Mr. Armstrong. By all accounts he was a very private individual, both before and after the Apollo missions. The insistence of privacy also meant his personal life was almost free from public controversy, a luxury in these celebrity-ridden days.
It’s not a tragedy; at age 82 he did lead a full life, albeit with the climatic moment happening 43 years ago. But it does say something about the spirit of human exploration that no one has followed up on the lunar visits that Mr. Armstrong spearheaded, not since 1972. When President Obama announced a new space policy that pretty much abandoned returning to the Moon for an indefinite period, it was one of the few times that Mr. Armstrong did speak out in public:
He testified before Congress and in an email to The Associated Press, Armstrong said he had “substantial reservations,” and along with more than two dozen Apollo-era veterans, he signed a letter calling the plan a “misguided proposal that forces NASA out of human space operations for the foreseeable future.”
I honestly believe that the world needs more people like Neil Armstrong.