Humility in a Sea of Tranquility


Neil Armstrong used to tell dry punchless jokes about the moon and then follow them up with, “Ahh…I guess you had to be there.”
Well, I was there…at least I felt deep down in my soul I was there with Neil. It was Sunday evening, July 20, 1969 and I stepped out of the back seat of a white Buick in our driveway which was surrounded by a cluster of canopied scrub oak. Walking out into the center of our front yard to escape the trees, I peered into the gathering of the evening as it mingled with day, orange and blue and white melding into dusty shades of infinite space. And I saw Neil Armstrong in the Sea of Tranquility planting the American flag in moon cheese. At least I thought it was him. The shadows may have fooled me. I rushed inside to confirm my suspicions and watched a black and white TV image of Eric Sevareid declare, “We’ve seen some kind of birth here.” Sevareid, the CBS commentator, described Armstrong’s clumsy first moments on strange ground as a “clumsy creature, half-blind, maneuvering with great awkwardness at first, and slowly learning to use its legs, until, in a rather short time it’s running.” There was some inner competition to be the first of the crew down the ladder of the Lunar Module and perhaps one NASA official explained it best why Neil set his foot on the moon first. “Neil was Neil. Calm, quiet, and absolute confidence. We all knew that he was the Lindbergh type. He had no ego.” Steve Rushin’s Sports Illustrated article about Neil Armstrong is a great piece about the celebrity culture in which we live. Rushin also quotes C.S. Lewis, who is not often quoted in the context of sports. That’s reason enough to read his piece about humility. It’s worth the time…enjoy.


3 responses to “Humility in a Sea of Tranquility”

  1. Never heard this about Armstrong. Very nice. It was Lovell who gave his wife a mink coat for Christmas while he was in orbit and the card on the coat said, “From the man on the moon.” Technically, it wasn’t. It was from the man in orbit.

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