On Saturday afternoon, the family of Neil Armstrong announced that the famous astronaut had passed away at the age of 82 after complications from heart surgery he had earlier this month. Within a few hours there was an outpouring of reaction to the death of the first man to walk on the Moon, including official statements from President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
“Neil was among the greatest of American heroes – not just of his time, but of all time,” said President Obama in a White House statement. “Today, Neil’s spirit of discovery lives on in all the men and women who have devoted their lives to exploring the unknown – including those who are ensuring that we reach higher and go further in space. That legacy will endure – sparked by a man who taught us the enormous power of one small step.”
Obama summarized that sentiment in a tweet from his campaign account, @BarackObama; the “-bo” indicates the tweet was written by Obama himself:
Neil Armstrong was a hero not just of his time, but of all time. Thank you, Neil, for showing us the power of one small step. -bo
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 25, 2012
Gov. Romney also issued a statement from his campaign mourning Armstrong’s passing. “Neil Armstrong today takes his place in the hall of heroes. With courage unmeasured and unbounded love for his country, he walked where man had never walked before. The moon will miss its first son of earth.” Romney added that he “met and spoke” with Armstrong just a few weeks ago, although he does not mention the subject of that conversation.
Romney also provided a brief summary of his statement via Twitter:
Neil Armstrong today takes his place in the hall of heroes. The moon will miss its first son of earth.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) August 25, 2012
In Congress, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) issued a brief statement. “A true hero has returned to the Heavens to which he once flew,” he said. “Ohio has lost one of her proudest sons. Humanity has gained a legend.”
On Facebook, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) posted a brief note about the death of Armstrong. “He will always be remembered as one of the most iconic pioneers of the NASA community – dedicated to the team that helped him achieve glory for us all,” she wrote.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) also provided a brief comment in a statement via the Miami Herald. “Neil Armstrong understood that we should reach beyond the stars. His ‘one giant leap for mankind’ was taken by a giant of a man.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) also expressed his condolences in a statement while taking a bigger-picture view. “America, the space community and the entire world have lost a courageous pioneer. One needs to look no further than the various foreign currencies in the donation box at Washington’s National Air and Space Museum to understand what our space program means not only for our country but for all of humanity.”