Claire Duffy's blog about public speaking and communication (in real life). Speak well, do well!
Obituaries following Neil Armstrong’s death describe him as reserved, a quiet, private man who avoided public life and would not feed the world’s appetite for glorifying the moon landing.
He did however leave an indelible mark on the minds of millions, from those zany kangaroo hops on the moon’s surface to one of the most memorable one-liners in history: ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’
But is that what he really said? Armstrong claims he said ‘…one small step for a man…’ which makes more sense, but the missing ‘a’ has remained missing, at least till 2009.
For the 37 years since the Moon landing, official documents have reflected uncertainty, some saying “for man,” others “for a man.” Now Sydney researcher Peter Shann Ford says he has the technological proof that Armstrong said the critical “a” that gives the true meaning of humankind’s first words on a heavenly body. Ford’s company specializes in nerve-controlled computing to overcome physical disabilities.
Ford had detected the “a” in data about 35 milliseconds long, pronounced so quickly by the Apollo 11 mission commander that it was in a “sub-aural region”…
Armstrong had “fully intended” to say the “a,” but “Neil didn’t know what happened to it,” said James Hansen, the author of the 2005 biography First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong…There “may be an even purer recorded transmission” at Parkes Observatory in Australia, which received the transmissions from the Apollo 11 Moon landing.
From Presidents Kennedy to Obama, the US space program leaves a legacy of legendary speeches, but one of the most impressive was never delivered.
This speech is a eulogy, written for Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin ‘in the event of moon disaster’. After calling their widows, President Nixon would have told the watching millions: “Fate has ordained that the men who went to the Moon to explore in peace will stay on the Moon to rest in peace”. Once the speech had been delivered, Mission Control would have closed communications and a clergyman would have conducted a burial service.
Armstrong was indeed camera shy and averse to publicity, but here is his last interview, and he recently gave an unusal series of extended interviews to Alex Malley, the CEO of CPA Australia. If you’re curious about the connection, Armstrong’s Dad was an auditor. Watch them, and meet a warm, humble and wise man with much to offer us from his extraordinary life.
Dinner time discussion
Here’s what Armstong’s family said about him: “While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.
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”.
- Conversation cues
- Armstrong disliked publicity and stayed out of the limelight. Given his outstanding accomplishments, was this the right thing for him to do?
- ‘Modesty’ and ‘service’ are not words we hear very often about public figures. What makes a person a good role model?
- The moon landing is remembered by everyone alive at the time. Ask around – anyone over 45 will have memories to share. What did you find out that you didn’t know before?
- Was the moon landing worth it? Do you think space exploration can be justified when there are so many problems down here on earth?
Dinner is a great opportunity for families to talk about the news. Good conversation nourishes the brain, as good food nourishes the body!