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The Moonwalkers 



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All the moonwalkers, twelve in all, were men, and they were all Americans. Eleven had been Boy Scouts, and most listened to country-and-Western music on their way to the moon. In a space program that cost billions of dollars, they only earned eight dollars a day, and a fee was deducted for the bed on the spacecraft. The last moonwalk was in 1972; since then, space craft have orbited the moon, landed probes on it, and taken detailed photos of it. But no human has been back.  


Of the three astronauts on Apollo 11 - Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins - Aldrin and Armstrong landed on the moon, while Collins manned the control module that orbited the moon. Aldrin had hoped that he would be the first to step on the moon. Michael Collins has said, of Aldrin, that he "resents not being first on the moon more than he appreciates being second." On the moon, while Armstrong took photos of Aldrin posing, Aldrin didn't take any of Armstrong doing the same. Only a few photos show Armstrong on the moon, and one was taken by Armstrong himself - of his reflection in Aldrin’s helmet. As a writer to The New Yorker magazine commented, "We are petty and misbehave on Earth; we will be petty and misbehave in space." Neil Armstrong had a mostly unremarkable, post-moonwalk life. He became a professor at the University of Cincinnati and lived on a dairy farm. Nearly a decade after the moonwalk, he wrote a poem called "My Vacation": 


Nine Summers ago, I went for a visit. 


To see if the moon was green cheese. 


When we arrived, people on earth asked: "Is it?" 


We answered: "No cheese, no bees, no trees."  


There were rocks and hills and a remarkable view 


Of the beautiful earth that you know. 


It’s a nice place to visit, and I’m certain that you 


Will enjoy it when you get to go.   


The Apollo 11 astronauts took an enormous risk by undertaking the moon mission. In the case the mission failed, and the astronauts did not return, a draft speech had been prepared for President Nixon. It read, in part, that "Fate ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace." Neil Armstrong passed away in 2012, at the age of 82. After his death, his family wrote the following: "For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. 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."  


GEORGE BRAINE 


Sapporo, Japan  


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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