Wednesday 13 November 2019

Those who gripe about Neil Armstrong's famous quote are on another planet

• Last weekend we witnessed the sad passing of Neil Armstrong at the age of 82. A man who boldly went where no man had gone before. A man who was the embodiment of heroism, as Thomas Carlyle once put it "the divine relation which in all times, unites a great man to other men".

Sadly, somehow a confounding cacophony of journalistic hacks managed, in light of his passing, to resurrect that long forgotten, buried and completely moot question regarding the missing "a" in Armstrong's iconic post lunar landing speech. Namely: "One small step for 'a' man. One giant leap for mankind."

Armstrong was then and shall always remain the embodiment of true heroism which "is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others, at whatever cost," as the late US tennis star Arthur Robert Ash Jr once said.

Modern society is sadly lacking in archetypal heroic figures for the youth of today to look up to.

In the absence of any true heroes society has chosen idle celebrity worship.

A sad, shocking and pathetic preponderance of modern-day celebrities, football stars, pop stars, soap-opera stars and movie stars all the way up to the dizzying heights of the superfluous superstars.

The vernacular of many such celebrities can be ox-like, both in its simplicity and its moronic nature.

A disproportionate number of superstars are so utterly incapable of articulating themselves, let alone stringing a sentence together, that one has to be fearful lest their ignorance infiltrates popular culture and language.

This puerile debate on Neil Armstrong's famous words continues nonetheless.

Did Armstrong make a grammatical gaffe or was the infamous missing "a" not actually absent but inaudible due to the limitations of communication at the time?

Did Armstrong indeed omit the "a" in error on the spur of the monumental moment?

Surely one would have assumed that on his passing, given the gravity of the mission, that journalists would have been magnanimous enough to overlook Armstrong's possible omission, or omit to speak of it, so to speak?

Armstrong 's grammatical faux pas clearly pales in comparison and is totally eclipsed by the lunar magnitude of the lack of articulation on the part of many of the moronic over-paid mercurial morons we have now sadly chosen to worship.

The extent to which celebrities are allowed by journalists to wallow in their ignorance and misuse of the spoken word is cataclysmic.

The debris from grammatical gaffes of galactic proportions litters our daily papers.

A world absent of heroes is a sad and lonely void of a place. It would be a tragedy if Armstrong were to be remembered for his, as yet to be conclusively proven, omission of the letter "a" and not his one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind as witnessed by 528 million people on July 20, 1969.

I will leave the final word regarding his memory to his family, who said in a statement: "For those who may ask what they can do to honour Neil, we have a simple request. Honour 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."

Denis Doyle
Bray, Co Wicklow

Irish Independent

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