Neil Alden Armstrong
On a grainy black and white television, I watched Neil Alden Armstrong step on the moon July 20, 1969.
People completely disinterested in the event filled the room. Old people whose first trip away from small-town Oklahoma was to go to WWII. And a baby less than two-weeks-old, visiting from its small-town in New Mexico. That baby’s older siblings argued and played with their dog. The baby’s parents, grandparents, and an assortment of other adult relatives chatted and cooed. I felt like I was the only person in the room who cared about the picture on the TV, being received in an American heartland room, live from the moon. And maybe that day, I was. At least in that room.
I knew that with that small step and giant leap we as a species were starting our emigration away from our natal planet.
We all come from a long line of immigrants. My great-grandparents came from the old-country. Someday one of my great-grand-children or great-great-grandchildren will say they came from the old-world. And their new world will truly be a new world, not just a new continent, or a new country, or a new neighborhood.
I do not believe that I will visit a colony on the moon. But I do believe that I will live long enough to see other people do just that. Average people. Not only highly trained, physically fit astronauts hired by and representing this nation or that one. But a geologist from a state university somewhere in this old world, going to do research. A teacher husband joining his doctor wife. He will be one of many to teach the colony’s children. And she will be one of many to provide professional support to the colony’s growing population. A population of miners and mechanics and technicians and restaurateurs and grocers and all the other people who make a community thrive.
That teacher will teach the children about astronauts from the 20th Century who rode the ships into space. He may not take the time to teach them about the dreamers and the scientists and the regular people just like them who made it possible for humans to out-migrate from Earth. But he will teach them about Neil Alden Armstrong, the first human being to stand on the moon.