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Patch Poll: What Did Neil Armstrong and the Apollo Missions Mean to You?

The first man to walk on the moon dies after complications from heart bypass surgery.

His family called him "a reluctant American hero" who was just doing his job.

But Neil A. Armstrong, who died Saturday of complications from heart bypass surgery, was a hero.

He was just shy of his 39th birthday when he lumbered down the ladder from the Apollo 11 spacecraft and stepped onto the stark lunar landscape on July 20, 1969.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," he said, as Americans around the country watched in awe at the live footage from dark space, so far away.

That step fulfilled a challenge President John F. Kennedy issued in the early 1960s — to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

Armstrong began his career as a Navy fighter pilot and test pilot before being tapped for a highly selective position as a NASA astronaut in 1962.

NASA's website this morning features a photo of Armstrong in his flight suit, with a simple "Neil Armstrong, 1930-2012."

“He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits," his family said in a statement released by NASA.

And his family has one request for the American people.

"Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

Did Armstrong's Apollo mission inspire you? Do you think the U.S. is still living up to the ideals of those early missions?

Elaine O'Brien August 27, 2012 at 01:09 AM
When I think of Neil Armstrong, I think of a time when we believed in the importance of scientific discovery and exploration. The space program brought us so many advances in aviation, computers and other technology. It is interesting that the two "first" astronauts, the first man on the moon and Sally Ride, the first woman astronaut passed away this summer. Both of them were inspirational.
George August 27, 2012 at 01:27 AM
I remember seeing the landing and after watching for a while going out into my backyard to look up in the sky to see the moon and looking in awe thinking a man was actually walking on the moon! Very cool!
Fred September 04, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Every time I think of Neil Armstrong i will remember how the the white house released a photo of Obama in rememberance, jerks.

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