Neil Armstrong, who was a custodian of NASA exploration and whose contribution single-handedly shifted the centre of space missions from the USSR to the USA without any war - died at 82 on August 25 due to complications from blocked coronary arteries. His name became as instantly recognisable as a mecca, the crucifixion of Jesus, the Taj Mahal, or Einstein's hair the very moment he said, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" while walking on the moon. Billions of people around the world have shed tears for him - especially those who saw that
historical event on TV: man on
I was not yet born when my grandpa watched the Apollo mission from Bangladesh on a small black-and-white television as Armstrong took those small, giant, historical steps. Some forty-three years later, tears started streaming down my face as I became entranced in front of a Lehman College computer screen, only slightly bigger than my grandpa's old TV, reading the news of Armstrong's death. I immediately looked at the sky through the window to see whether it was crying for its first son of Earth. I did the same thing while I was driving home.
In fact, my eyes were not on the street - they were on the moon, as if I was driving toward it. However, I did not end up on the moon; rather, I was forced to stop by two cops.
"License and registration, please," said one.
"Why, what did I do wrong, officer?" I asked.
"You have violated a red light."
"Forgive me, officer, I did not do it intentionally. I was actually driving by looking toward the moon."
"Are you drunk?"
"I am not drunk; I winked up at the moon to commemorate the memory of Armstrong, my hero."
"Who the hell is Armstrong?"
"What the hell has Armstrong got to do with you looking at the moon?" asked the other cop.
"Armstrong was the first man who walked on the moon. He just passed away - an hour ago - the entire world mourns for the moon's first son of Earth." My voice choked with sorrow, and my eyes instantly filled with tears. Both cops looked at each other, exchanging their conversation using their eyes only, in an effort to figure out who Armstrong
I thought I should help them out. "It's not enough to know only rock-stars - you need to know science stars as well."
"We know who Armstrong was - of course we know him," said one cop. "It took us a little time to figure it out due to your heavy accent."
The other cop was even more dramatic: "It's not Neil Armstrong, idiot; it's Lance Armstrong."
The ignorance of these two cops reminded me of a quote of Michio Kaku, my most famous teacher: "The American future will be at the hands of the ignorant".
"We'll give you two tickets - $200 for violating a red light and $100 for arguing with the NYPD," said one cop.
"And the take-home lesson is simple: never drive looking at the sky," said the other.
Yet I will look at the moon again and again, regardless of whether I am driving or walking - because I have to continue to pay my respects to Armstrong. Why don't you guys join me? Come on, let's look at the moon. Look - look - Armstrong is there - this is why it is smiling so much. So let's give him a wink together.
Rashidul Bari, a biographer of Muhammad Yunus, most recently authored the 'Grameen Social Business Model: A Manifesto for Proletariat Revolution'. He is
currently working on a physics manual under Dr Daniel Kabat.
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