|Following in His Footsteps|
Over the weekend, Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon, passed away.
Although the Apollo project resulted in Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon, its purpose was never to send Neil Armstrong, the person, to the Moon. Its aim instead was to use a lunar landing to establish America’s presence in space, to demonstrate America’s industrial might, and to spur new technologies and new innovations. To be sure, Project Apollo could never have succeeded without a Neil Armstrong; he clearly had “the right stuff,” with nerves of steel and a powerful mind that could keep many systems and activities in perspective simultaneously. But neither could Neil Armstrong have walked on the Moon without a Project Apollo.
We underappreciate Armstrong if we think of him only as a brilliant engineer or a talented pilot or a bold voyager, although he was all of these things. He was a new kind of hero, because Project Apollo was more about us than about him. Tonight is a full moon, a good time to remember what we as a nation can accomplish together.
Armstrong’s family released a brief and moving statement after his death. They said, in part: “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.”
More Than Just Museums
A few weeks ago, I joined G. Wayne Clough, the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, for an evening at the National Air and Space Museum.
As you probably know, the Air and Space Museum holds key artifacts of America’s history in flight, including the Wright Brothers’ first airplane; Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of Saint Louis; and the Apollo 11 command module that carried Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the Moon.
But although many people know the Smithsonian Institute as a collection of a few dozen world-class museums, I think of it primarily as a research institute. The Institute includes nine research centers, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center at the Chesapeake Bay to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal. The Institute also houses numerous research programs, conducting cutting-edge work in marine biology, planetary studies, folklife and heritage studies, and much more. About 70 percent of the Institute’s scientific research is federally funded. I suggest you look into this important research organization.
National Breastfeeding Month
August is National Breastfeeding Month, and earlier this month, I attended a Breastfeeding Awareness Day organized by Children’s Futures and held at Capital Health Medical Center in Hopewell. Representatives of the Nurse-Family Partnership program, the Central Jersey Family Health Consortium, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Horizon NJ, Mercer Street Friends, and other organizations shared information about breastfeeding, nutrition, and baby care. The event was attended by expecting and nursing mothers and their partners, and it was a great success.
Although New Jersey’s rate of breastfeeding is above the national average, we must continue to encourage and support breastfeeding. It is important to make sure that environments beginning with the delivery hospital are breastfeeding-friendly.