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Lest We Forget – Buzz Aldrin’s 92nd Birthday

Posted on Monday, January 31, 2022
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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9 Comments
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In late January, former Apollo 11 lunar module pilot, Buzz Aldrin – the last living member of the epic Apollo 11 crew, first humans to walk on the moon – celebrated his 92nd birthday. Talking with him that day, he was cheerful as always, hopeful for America, happy to indulge wonder, dismiss controversy, and reflect.

When you have lived almost a century, began flying at age two – a couple of years after Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, a couple dozen since the Wrights pioneered flight, then fly combat in Korea, spacewalk on Gemini, leave your footprints with Neil Armstrong on the moon, and spend much of the rest of your life inspiring others to search, set and live their dreams – there is much to reflect on.

Buzz seems as dynamic as ever, somehow almost timeless, although these days sporting a well-trimmed white beard, hallmark depth in his eyes, and perhaps a bit more cerebral, although still enormously hopeful that Mankind will find a way to cooperate more fully in human space exploration, and America will lead the way back to the moon, on to Mars, and perhaps then beyond.

Destiny seems real to Buzz, and why not? He has lived it. He was a wide-shouldered, strong but relatively modest boy, who somehow played the line on his New Jersey high school football team – that unexpectedly won the state championship. From there, he beat the odds and got to West Point.

Graduating third, he flew combat in Korea – got kills that might well have killed him. Before that, he tried pushing the envelope with planes, at one point pulling a double “Immelmann turn” – a dogfighting maneuver with loop, half-loop, half-roll, high-altitude, high-Gs – never done in the plane he flew. He blacked out, but “luckily” came to a few hundred feet off the deck, “hand on the stick, pulled back.”

If that – or Korea or any of a thousand other “what ifs” had not gone just right, he would never have spacewalked on Gemini 12, or walked on the moon in Apollo 11. Even those missions were – or should have been – nailbiters. They almost had to abort the moon landing but kept on. They landed with less than 30 seconds of fuel left. They had to innovate to get the ascent engine to light.

If destiny has ever sat on a man’s shoulder – it has on the shoulder of Buzz Aldrin. And what distinguishes him beyond that and all his feats of wonder, courage, and can-do, most on behalf of his country – like the other Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury astronauts?

Perhaps just this:  He believes. He believes in the possible, in America today and always, in wild daring, in confident exploring, and in pushing to see how far we can do, how much we can do, how high you can reach – and how high we, all of us, as a nation can reach. 

One of the founding advocates for astronaut training by neutral buoyancy, he became an avid scuba diver, exploring shipwrecks and coral reefs, not vicariously, not on television, not a clever app – but by going, daring and doing, enjoying every minute.

One of the first to successfully spacewalk, NASA notably recorded a minimal elevation in his blood pressure and pulse rate, as on the later Apollo mission and moonwalk. Asked how he happened to keep his blood pressure so low when spacewalking, in view of the risk, past issues with other walks, and the obvious fact that he was in orbit around our planet … he paused, said, he was honestly having fun.

To dare mightily, as Theodore Roosevelt so memorably advised, is the first challenge. It takes the conviction that we will embrace risk, understand that progress and achievement, discovery and exploration, commitment and satisfaction do not come with guarantees, that we often fail, and when we do, we must get back up start again. It takes seeing that success involves failure but is worth it.

Buzz at 92 remembers it all, humbly and quietly ponders the future with great hope, and is as close to a living version of the best America produces as we may wish to find. He had his failures, which each led to future successes. He was not at first admitted to the astronaut corps, so he studied and tried again – only to become the Apollo 11 lunar module commander, one of the first two humans on the moon.

Later, he wrestled with physical and personal challenges, battling substance abuse until he could look back on half a century of sobriety, again take the measure of our innate humanness, the need for confidence, resilience, and self-awareness.

Buzz believes – even now, with an unwavering smile. He believes in the enormous untapped power in each of us to overcome our own fears and faults, lift our head to the future and push the envelope, make things happen we could almost not imagine within possible, then reach higher again. 

Most of all, he believes in the power of good people, rooted in confidence, tenacity, and faith, to reach outward and make a difference, all of us. And he believes in one more thing, the destiny of America. Buzz, for believing in all of us, in this great nation, and for showing us how to do it; Happy Birthday!

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Rob
Rob
2 years ago

Love Buzz…

james michalicek
james michalicek
2 years ago

He knows the answers.

Mary Annie
Mary Annie
2 years ago

Thank you RBC! Yet another tribute to a great American! Keep these inspiring pieces coming our way!

Art
Art
2 years ago

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUZZ. ABOVE AND BEYOND. WHAT A LIFE EXPERIENCE!!!!!

PaulE
PaulE
2 years ago

An amazing individual, who inspired so many to push themselves beyond their comfortable confines.

Momcat
Momcat
2 years ago

Those “what if’s” were God taking care of him. Sad he doesn’t see it.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
2 years ago

See Gateway Fdn Space Hotel project
Lunar base planned
Orbital space business

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