I'm late to the party on this, and just about everything there needs to be said about it has been said. But I will add my small piece.
Armstrong's family has asked that when you "see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."
Not to contradict his family, but I would argue that the best possible way we could honor Mr. Armstrong would be to follow the advice of Mr. Schwarzeneggar.
Let's get our asses to Mars.
My Mom grew up in the space age. She grew up reading Robert Heinlein and dreaming about living on the moon. I grew up in an age where our grandest missions were to resupply the international space station and circle the earth a few times. NASA's been facing cutbacks for years, finally shutting down the Space Shuttle program, and I can't help but think that it's directly tied to our lack of ambition. If we're only going 242 miles up, how is that going to inspire anyone? New York to DC is 242 miles. Amtrak can get you there is 3 hours. (Fucking AMTRAK! C'mon NASA! Amtrak is kicking your ass!)
And I don't think that the public's appetite for space travel has waned. Look how excited we all got when the Mars Rover Curiosity landed this summer! Pictures were taken! Internet memes were spawned!
When we put our minds to it, we got a man on the moon in ten years. 43 years later, that's as far as any person has gone.
I am a liberal Democrat, and I think Newt Gingrich is a bloated toad, but he did say one thing I agreed with on the campaign trail.
Gingrich offered his vision of an ambitious new space program. "By the end of my second term," Gingrich said, "we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American." The crowd erupted in applause.
And he was just getting started; by 2020, he said, there would be regular flights to Mars.
Of course, he was probably just pandering to the Republican voters on Florida's space coast in an attempt to woo those who had lost work once the Space Shuttle shut down.
What's that, you say? Oh, Mars would cost too much? How about we divert $50 billion out of our current defense budget? That only leaves $650 billion left to defend ourselves with. I'd much rather we fund a trip to Mars than another 10 year adventure in Afghanistan or Iraq (or a brand new one in Iran).
So let's get to it. Let's christen the USS Neil Armstrong and get going. I want a Mars landing by 2022. I want footprints on Mars, not tire treads. You want to talk about uniters and dividers? Then this country should unite and get someone on Mars.
And then start the lunar colony. There's still time for Mom to have her Moon Condo to retire to.
(Because she's not moving to Florida. She hates Florida.)