Remembering Neil Armstrong

The memorial service will bring together family members, dignitaries, political leaders, and members of the NASA family, including current and former astronauts, to celebrate the life of the first moonwalker, Neil Armstrong, commander of the Apollo 11 mission.

Armstrong, 82, died on August 25 following complications that resulted from heart surgery.

The public memorial in Washington, D.C., precedes Armstrong’s burial at sea, which will be conducted by the U.S. Navy on Friday.

Giant leap for mankind
“That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” These were the instantly famous words, spoken by Armstrong in July 1969, as he became the first human to walk on the moon. All around the world, millions of people watched it unfold on television from his video camera, 400,000 kilometers away.

The landing happened after a decade of competition between the American space agency and the Soviet Union to get there first. While it filled Americans with pride to be the first to achieve such a monumental goal, when Armstrong landed he made sure to mention “mankind” rather than just America, being very aware that the world was watching and that it would mean something to everyone on Earth.

With his partner Buzz Aldrin, they left a plaque on the moon that reads: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.” They also left a patch to honour those (both American and Soviet) who died in pursuit of space.

Watch ABC’s tribute to Armstrong: