The passing of Neil Armstrong represents much more than the death of one man who accomplished something extraordinary. He was a link to the "old" America; the United States at the height of its power, influence, creativity, potential.
Actually, by 1969 - the year the moon landing took place - the United States had already begun its long downhill economic and cultural slide on which it is currently still traveling, but but just like Rome wasn't built in a day, it didn't collapse in a day either.
Does anyone not find it odd that the men who planted their feet on the surface of the moon are beginning to die of old age, and yet we have not put anyone back up there since? I just turned 40 years old this summer, and yet, the last time an American walked on the moon, I was a mere six months old.
Today, not only has the moon program been long abandoned, the space shuttle program has been scrapped as well. If I recall correctly, even the days of the International Space Station are numbered. The one bright light is that private enterprise has picked up the proverbial football and is running it into space, but when you look at their accomplishments and their progress, you get the feeling that private space entrepreneurs have been forced to somewhat reinvent the wheel.
The United States is still living off the residual glory created by the human capital of earlier generations. Neil Armstrong was a member of those earlier generations. But as people like Neil Armstrong continue to pass into history, who will replace him? I know it is easy to look around at our society today with its smart phones and other advanced technologies, but am I the only one to think that it all feels like we are on borrowed time?
Neil Armstrong made one small step for A man that represented one giant leap for mankind. But so far, that one giant leap seems to have landed in quicksand.
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson