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Monday, July 21, 2014

The Real Deal

In an era where heroes seem to be in short supply, and there is a tendency to exaggerate accomplishments to acquire heroic status, Neil Armstrong needed no such crutch.

He was the real deal.

Neil Armstrong gained star status when he took the first steps on the moon on July 20,1969. When he radioed to Houston, “The Eagle has landed.” Houston replied, “You’ve got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.”

Neil Armstrong grew up in small town Ohio and learned to fly before he learned to drive.

After serving in the Navy during the Korean War,fighting in the unit immortalized by author James A. Michener  in “The Bridges at Toko-Ri, Armstrong headed off to Purdue University to study aeronautical engineering studies, his grades rising and a career in sight.

While at Purdue he met Janet Shearon. The couple married in January 1956. By the time Armstrong was tapped to command the Apollo 11th mission, Jan and Neal had already gone through more than most couples their age. A young daughter had died from an inoperable brain tumor, leaving two brothers behind.

Heroism, of course, takes many forms. Perhaps none are more heroic than those who see the hero off on the journey. The ones who stay behind watching, waiting, safeguarding all things precious display an inner strength and courage maybe surpassing those who pursue the adventure.

The Armstrongs remained married until 1994. They divorced and went their separate ways. Both Jan and Neil maintained a privacy that protected both the family and the heroic image the nation had created for them.