Newspaper headlines late last month reported the death of Neil Armstrong, commander of a two-man crew that landed on the moon on July 20, 1969.
Armstrong’s name revives never-to-be-forgotten memories of meeting the astronaut in charge of that first moon landing.
It was February 1980 when Armstrong headlined the DeKalb County Farm Bureau annual meeting. The moment Armstrong stepped into the auditorium, his demeanor and quiet approach instantly demonstrated who was in charge.
Armstrong showed warmth, wariness, humor, and wit during his 204-minute talk – mostly as a favor for a farmer friend in DeKalb County.
He did not want any press coverage but because I was writing for the Farm Bureau, he gave me his observations.
Armstrong predicted “an increase in the amount of activity to starting in 1981 with the space shuttle.”
When asked about the actual landing on the moon, he said he had to take manual control of the flight to locate a landing spot within 90 seconds.
I asked if he was apprehensive about getting off the moon. With a small smile he said, “There was nothing I knew better than how to start the engine to leave the moon.”
Recalling the view from the moon, Armstrong said, “Earth looked like a giant blue medicine ball, drifting in the inky blackness.”
In my article, I described Armstrong’s presence: “So soon ... he came, made an imperishable impact, earned the respect of those who saw and listened … and he was gone. On schedule. Precise. Punctual. Always in command."
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During Farm Bureau’s 100th Anniversary Dinner Aug. 24, I learned Orion Samuelson, the headline speaker, will have a book available Nov. 1 describing his career as a farm journalist. “You Can’t Dream Big Enough” tells about his life on a dairy farm and the people he met during his more than 50 years as a WGN broadcaster.
The book provides an insight into Samuelson’s life. He recalls, “... attending a one-room country school; a bone disease that kept me from walking for two years and changing my life from farming to broadcasting.”
Samuelson refers to interviews with people in the 43 countries he visited and working with seven U.S. presidents. He interviewed several U.S. secretaries of agriculture. He also covers trade missions to Russia, China, Europe and Vietnam.
His book, as well as his appearance at the 100th anniversary dinner, reflects the enormous amount of his interaction with policy makers in Washington. He has met, interviewed and spoken with the highest ranking government officials. Samuelson reminds us that he believes his mission is to be an advocate for farmers.
• Don Peasley has been editor, columnist and historian in McHenry County since October 1947. He began his association with Shaw Publications in 1950. He is a frequent contributor of articles/photographs. He can be reached at 815-338-1533.