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Neil Armstrong and America's Greatness

Written By: Bill Finnigan  |  Posted: Monday, September 3rd, 2012

            The one who proved firsthand that the moon is not "made of cheese" died August 25, 2012 at age 82. A private service for family and fellow astronauts was held in Cincinnati, OH to honor the first man to walk on the moon. In attendance were Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, Neil's two crewmembers on the historic Apollo 11 mission which touched down on the moon in 1969. The first man to orbit the earth, John Glenn, was also there to celebrate the life of his fellow Ohioan.

            Glenn spoke in astonishment of Neil Armstrong's historic feat-"the first time anybody set foot in someplace other than earth." He went on to say, that "when I think of Neil (it's) not just the landing on the moon, but his whole life..;" "he really dared greatly. He had his pilot's license before he had his driver's license."

            Armstrong was a Navy pilot, flying experimental and serving during the Korean conflict. "He was devoted to that before he ever got into the space program," Glenn said. Neil "got bit by that bug very early in life, and was able to expand on that experience as he went through life like few pilots ever can."

            On a personal note, Glenn reflected on lessons from Armstrong's life.

            "It would be great if every person could find something like that that would give them that much pleasure that they would dedicate their lives to. Everyone should pick their field they are interested in and then try to get the finest education possible to allow them to participate in." This observation is true for sure, but there are deeper considerations.

            Neil was a man of purpose and clear direction. At the same time, he was not an egotist or one desiring celebrity status. His biographer, James Hansen, says that Armstrong rejected personal glory. He was even reticent to sign autographs or appear on media interviews. "Neil has a very strict sense of what's appropriate, and has since he was a boy," says Hansen, a former NASA historian who won Neil's confidence over time. Even in his limited public appearances, Armstrong "always turned the subject away from himself;" he was quick to give the credit to other team members. This attitude was considered "abnormal" by some; but how refreshing it is to find a humble hero in light of the present "tabloid" mentality.

            These principles should echo throughout our country, especially to our younger generation, who desperately needs the vision and discipline of a Neil Armstrong. With the decline of morality, discipline, and character building, we need a resurgence of such in our homes, schools, churches and government.

            The Bible says, "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?"  Without a solid foundation, the house will eventually crumble. We need to get back to basics, and that's more than the 3 R's. (Reading, writing, and arithmetic) The Judao-Christian principles that formed our Republic must be re-established if we're to maintain and enjoy our freedom.

            In his acceptance speech at the recent Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney eulogized Neil Armstrong's character and historic moon-landing. He said, "Tonight the American flag is still there on the moon. And I don't doubt for a second that Neil's spirit is still with us-that unique blend of optimism, humility, and the utter confidence that, when the world needs someone to do the really big stuff, you need an American."

            Would to God that America was really worthy of such a characterizing today! This presents a great challenge. Our country is only a skeleton of what it was 50 years ago. The Woodstock era (60s) was costly; the so-called "peace movement" only generated further chaos. The Bible was thrown out of public education and the Ten Commandments began to disappear from public view. The rest is history.

            Young people with the vision and character of a Neil Armstrong are not easy to find. The greatest need is not for more "moon-walkers," but those who will walk lawfully and wisely here on earth. This is our battleground. "In God We Trust" is still etched on our coins, which should once again challenge our fledging nation. Miracles can still happen.

            It's time to seek the God of our Fathers that mercy may be poured out on a people that has forgotten the Source of its greatness and leadership in the world. May there be a stirring in the land, restoring confidence and hope; may we witness ever-increasing grounds to be able to truly exclaim, "God Bless America!"

                Bill Finnigan is a retired pastor.  He lives in Warren, Ohio.

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