Memorial Set For Armstrong

WAPAKONETA —A wink is just the closing and opening of one eye quickly. The simple gesture can be a sign of greeting or affection.

People can gather and give that sign of affection to honor Wapakoneta’s favored son, Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, and to fulfill a request of the family during the “Wink at the Moon” ceremony at 8:30 p.m. today at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum.

Armstrong Air & Space Museum Director Chris Burton said the event is being scheduled to remember the career of Armstrong and what he meant to Wapakoneta, Auglaize County, the nation and the world.

“Another reason for the ceremony is to pay our respects to show his family and to show Mr. Armstrong, too, that the community supports him and continues to support him and appreciates what he did not only for us but for everyone,” Burton said. “The other reason is it is a memorial service for the people who attend as much as it is for those being remembered. A lot of people have stories here, a lot of people have memories of him or his parents, they have some story that connects them to Neil Armstrong and this is an opportunity for them to come here collectively and share that story or just listen to the people at the podium tell their story.”

Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, followed shortly thereafter by Buzz Aldrin on July 20, 1969, as part of the Apollo 11 crew. Fellow astronaut Michael Collins was orbiting the moon in the command module. Armstrong served as commander of the flight, a result of the work of more than 400,000 people involved in NASA and its subcontractors.

Burton provided the event’s tentative schedule as of Tuesday afternoon. The event was to be finalized at a meeting at 10 a.m. today. He requested people bring their own lawn chairs and blankets.

The museum director noted there will be color guards from units throughout Auglaize County to present the flags, then a musical selection commissioned by NASA, followed by a few speakers giving comments on Armstrong and their relationship including the director of the NASA Glenn Research Center. The director plans to talk about Armstrong’s career as an astronaut and as a test pilot.

The event also is to include the reading of letters and comments from people who cannot be in attendance, such as fellow Ohio astronaut John Glenn. This portion of the event concludes with the reading of the family’s official statement including their request of people all over the world to “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.”

Burton said at this time people will be requested to turn to the moon and give a wink.

Taps is to be played and there could be a 21-gun salute for the former Navy pilot to conclude the event.

The weather for the event should be clear and the moon visible with the temperature expected to be 69 degrees at 9 p.m., said Burton, who estimated the event to last less than an hour.

While the list of people planning to attend grows and Burton encouraged people to come out, he said people should still take part if they cannot make it to the museum’s grounds.

“We have received many, many comments from people saying for whatever reason they can’t be there in person but I will be participating in my own way at home, at work or wherever I will be looking at the moon and giving a wink,” Burton said. “I have to believe there will be many, many more people participating than on the grounds here at the museum.”