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Buzz Aldrin, Moonwalker, Speaks to America

Posted on Monday, November 13, 2023
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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Buzz Aldrin and Apollo 11 logo

Inspiration flows naturally from some people – in the present, from the past, for the future. It does from Buzz Aldrin, 93, Gemini 12, Apollo 11, one of the first two men to stir moondust and leave footprints on the moon, inspiring.

This Veterans Day, he flew from California to Texas to give remarks at the Rellis campus of Texas A & M, Bryan Airfield where he once trained in T-28s, then later flew F-80s and F-86s, latter in Korea, 60 combat missions, two shootdowns.

On a wet, cold, windy afternoon, this cheerful nonagenarian, MIT PhD, Brigadier General, took his place among guests, including four former Shuttle astronauts – all present to honor him.

The day was marked by recognition of our nation’s veterans, and the unveiling of a statue to Buzz, bronze snapshot of the young aviator, flight gear, near the chapel.

Sitting in spitting rain, wind at his face, among friends and family, Buzz was clearly humbled, glad to be here, nonplussed, ready to speak, sky notwithstanding.

Never mind limited mobility, just being over pneumonia, he was crisp, tough, and humorous, listened as others spoke about America and the past, including his.

When the statue unveiling was to occur, 30 feet away, attendants swooped in with a walker, afraid he might slip on wet cement. He smiled, waived it off, saluted.

He then rose to say a few words at the podium. After thanking many, recognizing his wife Anca and friends, he commenced to entertain with self-deprecating humor, another way of thanking.

Finally, his serious words found their way onto the buffeting wind, appreciated by those who listened.

PHD, General, second moonwalker, simply Buzz Aldrin, had prepared remarks, and they struck the right note, mix of respect, whimsy, gratitude and seriousness.

First, in a gravelly voice, “This is a meaningful day for me, one I will not forget. To have the chance to serve our country, this great and good country, and then to live long enough to see your service and that time recognized in a statue … is rather remarkable… humbling.”

Prepared words then followed. They described his journey, a man who has seen a lot, including Earth from the Moon, forever grateful, always looking forward.

They described a man who appreciates those who defend this nation, sees in his life the giving of many others, those who worked, flew, and walked beside him. He honored the nation’s veterans.

Specifically, his words included these. “I would like to think this statue represents something bigger… the many thousands of US combat aviators, and their families, those who flew over Korea, Vietnam, over Europe and the Pacific, and in recent conflicts.”

He got specific. “To me, it represents all those who physically climb into a cockpit to do battle, and those who are at home praying for them.”

“It represents those who fly for this country, do what they can while they can, who rise to defend freedom against whatever and whoever threatens us… They and their families are what this statue represents – never giving up, being proud of America, glad for the chance to serve.”

His words revealed heart. “When I trained here… America was a beacon to the world, a place where freedom and equality were ideals, as real as we could make them, and we wanted them to be real, and we were proud to fight for them.” 

“America was that again during Apollo, when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, when Neil and I left our footsteps there, and when Mike brought us home.”

“Here is the truth. America is still that beacon today. We are a beacon in a storm-tossed world, a place people believe in. We need to take that to heart.”

Finally: “Near here, I used to tell the tower I was ready for takeoff. I would say, ‘Roger, number one on the runway,’ and then take off …Later, when we got ready to light that ascent engine on the moon, I told Mission Control the same thing, ‘Roger, number one on the runway.’”

“Before I sign off, let me say this. I think America should always think that way, the way combat aviators think, be ready, be prepared, count our blessings, and be quick to step up to defend freedom.”

“We should be proud that we live where we do, in this land of the free, this good and great nation, in a personal way ready to say count me in, sign me up, let me help, ‘Roger, number one on the runway.’”

“The chance to serve was an honor, a privilege. Seeing this statue reminds me of many friends who served, and how good it felt, how much we have to be thankful for… And now, with gratitude, onward for tomorrow!”

Call it a moonwalker’s ode to America, all the possibilities that reside in the present, informed by the past, awaiting us. Call it heartfelt thanks, Buzz aware of what can be, what is, and what was. Call it inspired.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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Rik
Rik
7 months ago

I Honor Buzz Aldrin, a True American Hero in Every Way!

Leon Jones
Leon Jones
7 months ago

Trying to follow your prompts. What beautiful remarks from a humble servant to America. God bless you, Buzz, for your most excellent example for the rest of us.

SusanW
SusanW
7 months ago

Buzz Aldrin is one of the last great leaders of his generation. He represents a time in our history when America was a strong beacon throughout the world and a place where countries looked to us for innovation, strength, strong leaders with character, compassion and empathy. As he said in his speech, he and his fellow astronauts and colleagues were taught to “be ready, be prepared, count our blessings and be quick to step up to defend freedom.” It is time for a new generation of strong leaders, who value integrity, honesty, and have a strong sense of wonder and commitment, to step up and guide this great country out of this “storm” and protect our freedom. It’s time to renew hope, peace, and goodness in our country and world. Thank you, Buzz Aldrin, for being such an inspirational American. And, thank you, Robert, for reminding us of this great man.

patriot
patriot
7 months ago

This is what made America. He should be treated with Honor and Respect by all. Buzz is one of millions of Americans who made our good life possible!

Howard
Howard
7 months ago

Thanks, Robert, for a truly inspiring article about a great American. What a wonderful time it was to be alive back then and experience those great and marvelous events as they unfolded. I would only wish that our leaders today had the same inspiring vision as Buzz had and still has!

David Millikan
David Millikan
7 months ago

Excellent article.

David
David
7 months ago

July 20 1969 was such a special day. We were all so proud to be Americans from a nation that produced such great men as Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. Their saga going to the moon was not as easy as we may have thought…Apollo 11 was a little close to crashing when it landed, but smooth thinking and calm nerves kept them safe. When they came home we marveled at their modesty, their lack of boast. Compare that to the average pro football player, talking head warrior, or even politician today! These men were the best of a bygone era, and articles like this help bring that spirit back to us. Let’s pray our nation has the same independent mind and courage they did as we need it so much now.

Randall L. Beatty
Randall L. Beatty
7 months ago

He made this country great he is a true hero God Bless you thank you for your service

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