All the media attention for the 40th anniversary of the first walk on the moon has stirred up some memories for me. This momentous event happened the summer after I was in 8th grade, and I remember staying up late to watch it live on TV. It was a big deal for me then, and it still is.
However, I must confess that I’ve always been bothered by those first words spoken by Neil Armstrong: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” I’m afraid that those words have never made sense to me. It seemed like something was missing.
Because I was so young when I first heard them, I assumed that those words made sense to adults. Back in 1969, I assumed that my sense of proper grammar was still undeveloped. Over the years, however, those words have continued to puzzle me. As a result, my confidence in my “inner grammarian” has always been slightly damaged.
Now, at last, the mystery has been explained. As discussed in this AP article and this earlier blog post, Armstrong intended to and probably actually said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for Mankind.”
I feel much better now. My inner grammarian is finally at peace.
- God’s in his Heaven –
- All’s right with the world!
— Robert Browning, “Pippa Passes”