I can remember being a teenager who had just graduated from high school the summer of 1969. That fall I would start college. I would only finish one year before I would be thrown out for poor grades because I had been partying so hard. But, that summer was a summer of promise, a summer when I thought I was going out to conquer the whole wide world. And it seemed so possible because that was the summer that an American stepped on the moon. On 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” For the USA, coming a year after the Detroit, Los Angeles, and Columbia (near Harlem) riots, his step was a bit of hope that maybe all would turn out OK.
It did not turn out that way. The promise of 1969 was squandered. By 1975, South Viet Nam had fallen and helicopters were photographed desperately shuttling people out of the USA Embassy. The damage to our culture of that unpopular war has yet to be healed. By 1970, I had squandered some of my promise by getting tossed out of college. I was fortunate. God decided to reach out and give me another chance. Actually, he seems to keep on doing that, not only for me, but for many others.
Nevertheless, Neil Armstrong still stands for me as a sign of hope. The rest of Neil Armstrong’s life he stood as a symbol of what might have been. I say the rest of his life because today Neil Armstrong went on to meet his maker. He was a quiet man who retired to his farm in Ohio in 1979. Well, he has taken his final flight. May Our Lord be waiting at the end of it.