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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Armstrong’s death one giant loss for mankind
September 05, 2012 11:41 AM | 1729 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Special Photo<br>
Former NASA aeronaut Wayne R. Matson of Sandy Springs, center, is shown with astronaut Neil Armstrong, left, and Gen. Jimmy Doolittle as they discuss the Lindbergh Memorial Program during a 1977 meeting in Washington to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Lindbergh’s nonstop flight to Paris May 21 and 22, 1927. Armstrong died Aug. 25.
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Editor’s note: The following letter is about former NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong, who died Aug. 25. Wayne R. Matson, a former NASA astronaut and aeronaut (aviator), worked with Armstrong.


The accolades and memorials for “the first man to walk on the moon” are being heard around the world. Hopefully they will continue forever, least we forget.

Neil Armstrong was a giant, a hero and, most importantly, this was a man.

What impressed me most about Neil, the American astronauts and the Russian cosmonauts that I worked with was that they were real heroes, not just because of their accomplishments but because they served as role models of what a man could and should be: courageous, honest and modest. I pray that the Age of Armstrong will not be an age that passes into history and is forgotten. I believe what our young people need to day are real-life role models of what a person could and should be.

In 2005 Armstrong said that a manned mission to Mars will be easier than the lunar challenge of the 1960s. In 2010 he made a rare public criticism of the Obama Administration’s decision to cancel the Constellation Moon landing program.

Shortly after Gene Cernan’s walk on the moon [the last one by a NASA astronaut, in 1972], people began asking, “If we can send a man to the moon, why can’t we do such-and-such?” Well, we can! All we need are courageous, honest and modest leaders to set the goals.

Whenever I look up at the moon, I have tears in my eyes — tears of joy and tears of sadness. The joy is obvious. I’m looking at the ultimate memorial to Neil Armstrong. The sadness comes when I recall my school/college students’ response to the question, “Who was the first man to set foot on the moon?” The students do not know. Those few who do respond say “Lance Armstrong.” This is just one example of why America’s education system ranks so low in the world.

To improve education in America, I believe we will need courageous, honest and modest educational leadership. We need educators who will have “the right stuff.”

Wayne R. Matson

Sandy Springs

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