Inside Opinion

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Tag: Neil Armstrong

Sep.
14th

Moon landing news was slow to reach Hanoi Hilton

We get a lot of really good stories over the opinion wire that we don’t have room to run in print. I liked this piece by Arizona Sen. John McCain on how he learned that the U.S. had put a man on the moon – a few years after it happened.

From the Moon to Hanoi

By John McCain
Special to The Washington Post

Neil Armstrong’s passing reminded me of the moment I learned of his historic accomplishment. I didn’t gather with my family around the television to watch him take his “small step” onto the surface of the moon. When the momentous event occurred, I had no idea it was happening. I and several hundred comrades were otherwise engaged — prisoners of war in the enemy’s capital, where in 1969, news could travel slowly.

Our captors in Hanoi went to considerable lengths to keep us in the dark. They didn’t restrict our access to all news but were selective about the information they allowed to reach us. They routinely apprised us of anti-war protests, race riots, assassinations and the like. Reports were usually piped into our cells during Hanoi Hannah’s “Voice of Vietnam,” an often unintentionally funny, if repetitious, daily broadcast about America’s manifold sins and woes.

“American GIs, don’t fight in this illegal and immoral war,” Hannah would plead, while cheerfully regaling us with victories by the people’s liberation forces and the latest evidence that the United States had become a dystopian society.
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Aug.
28th

Armstrong embodied the human hunger to understand

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

You don’t succeed as an engineer or survive as a test pilot without being an intensely practical person. Yet the practical Neil Armstrong will forever be remembered for leading one of humanity’s most impractical adventures.

America had no pragmatic reason to go the moon in the 1960s. While the Apollo program spun off many inventions, the moon voyages were not about developing freeze-dried food or cordless tools. They were mainly about sending human beings up to the nearest heavenly body to have a look around.

Curiosity, pure and simple. It seems appropriate that when Armstrong died Saturday, the Martian rover Curiosity – NASA’s latest impractical adventure – had just begun exploring the bleak landscape of Mars.

In 1969, when Armstrong stepped out of the lunar lander, robots weren’t supposed to be the stars of the U.S. space program. Decades of science fiction had conditioned the world to expect humans to play the lead role in exploring Mars and deep space.

But after six trips to the moon, the United States lost interest and didn’t go back. That was 40 years ago; since then, our astronauts have been tooling around in near-Earth orbit.
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