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One giant legacy

Farewell Neil Armstrong, you were the man for the task and the times.

The passing of Armstrong last week, at age 82, was one of those events that makes us stop in our tracks and look back, take note, and think what might have been.

What if the Apollo mission had not been the end of our efforts to send astronauts beyond earth orbit? What if the moon landings had led to human footprints on Mars?

Neil Armstrong doubtless wondered about these things too, along with many other folks, especially those who are old enough to remember those July days in 1969 when we all stared skyward at the moon and held our collective breath.

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The Irish Echo was publishing then, of course. It's cover, under the headline "When Sunday Became Moonday," featured an illustration of the lunar surface, the lunar module Eagle, and the faces of the three Apollo 11 astronauts, Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

The illustrator, RJ Duffy, who lives today in Florida, did a magnificent job in capturing the likeness of each astronaut. Armstrong, on the left, is smiling.

All of us should now be smiling at the memory of what he and his fellow space travelers accomplished all those years ago.

And, as his family has requested, we should allow ourselves a wink and a smile next time we stare at the orb that is our nearest celestial neighbor and, thanks to Armstrong and his comrades, a world that is just one small step away.