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Passing of Neil Armstrong

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Neil Armstrong's death marks the end of an amazing era in human progress.

The Apollo missions brought formidable achievements of science and knowledge that have helped change human history.

And with that new knowledge came a new wisdom: literally a new perspective on human life.

The image they brought to all our consciousness, of our lonely planet in space, transformed our understanding of the great tasks of human development, environmental protection and peace.

It was an American President who said his nation had "tossed its cap over the wall of space" - but it was the American astronauts who followed it - and when they did, it truly was "one giant leap for mankind".

I've never forgotten watching that great moment on television.

For me as a small girl, Neil Armstrong was the symbol of so much that is good in the world.

The Armstrong family has put it beautifully:

‘‘For those who may ask what they can do to honour Neil, we have a simple request. Honor 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.’’

The mission of Apollo XI to land on the Moon in July 1969 was a fantastic achievement that lives today, from young students in labs in classrooms across our country who dream of miracles for the good of all mankind, to the rover now exploring the surface of Mars.

Neil Armstrong's co-pilot, Buzz Aldrin, recently visited Australia, sharing with us the magic of that landmark mission. I was one of those privileged to shake the hand of a man who knew Neil Armstrong.

I salute Neil Armstrong and the explorers who have followed him, and the worlds they continue to open for us.

His example of service, accomplishment and modesty - his triumph of reason and science and knowledge, and wisdom - will never die.


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