WASHINGTON — Flags flew at half mast across the United States on Friday in memory of astronaut Neil Armstrong, as family and friends attended a private funeral in Ohio for the first man to walk on the moon.
Loved ones and fellow astronauts of Armstrong, who died Saturday aged 82, gathered at a club in the Cincinnati suburb of Indian Hill to pay their final respects, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported on its Cincinnati.com website.
"Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon paved the way for others to be the 'first' to step foot on another planet," said Charles Bolden, head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
"We have an obligation to carry on this uniquely American legacy," added Bolden, himself a former astronaut, at the funeral, according to a text released by NASA in Washington.
"A grateful nation offers praise and salutes a humble servant who answered the call and dared to dream."
The late-morning funeral was by invitation only, reflecting Armstrong's own intensely private nature. A public memorial is planned for September 12 in Washington.
On Monday, in a White House proclamation, US President Barack Obama ordered that flags on all US government premises be lowered to half mast Friday to mark Armstrong's funeral.
His order applied to the Stars and Stripes on the top of the White House, all public buildings, military posts, naval stations and US naval ships at sea anywhere in the world, as well as at US embassies and consulates.
Armstrong, who grew up in rural Ohio and flew in the US navy before joining the US space program, became a world hero when he set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969.
The Apollo 11 commander was decorated by 17 countries and received a slew of US honors, but was never comfortable with his fame and shied away from the limelight.
Earlier Friday in Cincinnati, lunar astronauts James Lovell and Eugene Cernan helped launch a charity in Armstrong's honor at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
Armstrong's family had already requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the charity, known as the Neil Armstrong New Frontiers Initiative, which it founded.
Lovell was commander of the ill-fated Apollo 13 that aborted its mission and returned to Earth after an oxygen tank exploded in space, while Cernan was in December 1972 the last of the 12 men to have walked on the moon.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden paid tribute today to Neil Armstrong, calling the first man on the moon “an explorer, a patriot and an individual who, with ‘one small step’ achieved an impossible dream.”
Armstrong’s family and friends gathered in Ohio for a private funeral service. At Kennedy Space Center, Robert Cabana, the center director, led a memorial service for Armstrong, who died Saturday at age 82.
“His remarkable achievements will be forever remembered, and his grace and humility will always be admired,” Bolden said in a statement. “As we take the next giant leap forward in human exploration of our vast universe, we stand on the shoulders of this brave, reluctant hero. Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon paved the way for others to be the 'first' to step foot on another planet. We have an obligation to carry on this uniquely American legacy.”
Also today, American flags on all local, state and federal buildings in Florida were ordered to be flown at half-staff in Armstrong’s honor.
NASA Administrator Statement on Neil Armstrong Memorial Service
Apollo 11 Astronauts Michael Collins, left, and Buzz Aldrin talk at a private memorial service celebrating the life of Neil Armstrong, Aug. 31, 2012, at the Camargo Club in Cincinnati. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Today, we pay tribute to a pioneering American; an explorer, a patriot and an individual who, with 'one small step,' achieved an impossible dream. Family, friends and colleagues of Neil's gathered to reflect on his extraordinary life and career, and offer thanks for the many blessings he shared with us along the way.
His remarkable achievements will be forever remembered, and his grace and humility will always be admired. As we take the next giant leap forward in human exploration of our vast universe, we stand on the shoulders of this brave, reluctant hero. Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon paved the way for others to be the 'first' to step foot on another planet. We have an obligation to carry on this uniquely American legacy.
A grateful nation offers praise and salutes a humble servant who answered the call and dared to dream.
Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins, left, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, right, talk at a private memorial service celebrating the life of Neil Armstrong, Aug. 31, 2012, at the Camargo Club in Cincinnati. Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, died Saturday, Aug. 25. He was 82. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
NASA to Honor Neil Armstrong at National Cathedral
WASHINGTON -- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other dignitaries will attend a public memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral to honor the life and career of astronaut Neil Armstrong on Thursday, Sept. 13. The memorial will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed online by the agency's and National Cathedral's websites.
The service is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. EDT at the historic cathedral, which is known as the spiritual home for the nation. Dignitaries, community and political leaders, members of the Armstrong family and members of the NASA family, including current and former astronauts, will pay respects to the first man to walk on the moon, who died Aug. 25.
News media wishing to cover the memorial service must contact Meredith MacKenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday, Sept. 11, to receive credentials to cover this service. Space is limited.
A very limited number of seats will be made available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Those interested in attending must contact Christine Peterson at: email@example.com. Details regarding the service and participants will be released as plans are finalized.
Washington National Cathedral is a historic landmark symbolizing the role of faith in America, and its iconography tells the stories that have shaped the nation's identity. Armstrong, along with fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, presented the National Cathedral with a moon rock brought back during their Apollo 11 mission. The presentation took place in a July 21, 1974 service commemorating the fifth anniversary of the first lunar landing. The iconic Space Window that later would display the sliver of lunar rock also was dedicated at that service.
Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon when he set his foot down in an area known as the Sea of Tranquility. Now his body will be returned back to the sea here on Earth in a private ceremony.
Armstrong died Aug. 25 in Ohio after complications from recent heart surgery, he was 82. Today a family spokesman said the family will honor the former Navy fighter pilot, and Apollo 11 commander’s wishes for a burial at sea. No other details on the timing or location of the burial were available and may not be released. The U.S. Navy has strict guide lines on the burial at sea process with San-Diego Calif. and Norfolk Va. the only two U.S. ports to handle the full casket service. However, other U.S. ports can handle the scattering of ashes.
For the public, a memorial service is scheduled at the Washington National Cathedral located in the nation’s capitol on Thursday, Sept. 13 beginning at 10 a.m. EDT.