Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, was memorialized today in a moving, formal ceremony at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
With an audience that included House speaker John Boehner and fellow astronaut and former Sen. John Glenn, both fellow Ohioans, Armstrong was remembered as a man of courage and humility, a passionate aviator and a man who never stopped dreaming.
"Those of us who've had the privilege of flying in space followed the trail he helped forge," said NASA administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr., who was among those to offer tributes.
Bolden reminded those in the cathedral that one window of the National Cathedral held a piece of moon rock that Armstrong and his Apollo 11 crewmates took from the moon.
"It's a reminder not only of their significant human accomplishment but an acknowledgement that achievements are made possible through God's grace and guiding hand," he said.
Armstrong's Apollo 11 crewmate Michael Collins was to offer prayers on Armstrong's behalf, and singer-songwriter Diana Krall solemnly sang, in the ornate cathedral with its ascendant spires, "Fly Me to the Moon." Former Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton read an excerpt from the book of Exodus.
On July 20, 1969, Armstrong, a native of Wapakoneta, Ohio, made history when he became the first man to step on the moon. His words: "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" have become one of the legendary quotes in U.S. history. But long before that, he was a passionate aviator, receiving his flight certificate before he earned his driver's license.
Armstrong, who died in Cincinnati Aug. 25 of complications from a cardiovascular procedure, was earlier remembered at a private service in Cincinnati.
Fellow Astronaut Eugene Cernan described his friend of a man of great modesty who " reluctantly accepted his role as the first human being to walk on another world."
He also described him as a man with a passion for flight that began when he was six years old.
"Once he had tasted flight, Neil's eyes turned skyward, and it was there that he always longed to be," he said.
He said it was no mistake that Armstrong ended up being the first man to walk on the moon.
"No one could've accepted the responsibility of his remarkable accomplishment with more dignity and more grace than Neil Armstrong," he said. "He embodied all that is good and all that is great about America."
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