Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died last month. Armstrong was a true American hero, and yet the way that he handled fame was uncharacteristic of our time and speaks to how different people handle success. Many people seek fame and bask in it. But Armstrong realized that though he had an achievement that will be remembered throughout history, he was only one of a team and that his accomplishment was built on the shoulders of so many others. After his moon walk in 1969, watched by the world, Armstrong led a quiet unassuming life, letting the space program, and not its members, get the credit for the great achievement.
Most  stamp collectors are of the Armstrong variety, and no matter what their achievement in the hobby, they are usually quite retiring and keep their collecting to themselves. It seems fitting then that Armstrong was a collector and even used philately, like many of us, to provide security for his family. The story is that astronauts couldn’t buy life insurance as the most life insurance companies deemed space flight a bit risky. To insure survival benefits for their families in the event of their demise, the early lunar astronauts autographed philatelic covers that were to be sold in the event that they didn’t make it back from the moon. Of course they did make it, but some of these covers were sold in the 1990s by Buzz Aldrin, whose attitude towards cashing in on his lunar fame was the antithesis of Armstrong’s. The association of philately with the lunar expeditions adds another interesting piece to philately’s long story.
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