by Dan Ward
When I learned this weekend of Neil Armstrong’s passing, my first thought was not of his legendary achievement of being the first to walk on the moon, but of a long-ago class assignment on the message he broadcast to the world July 21, 1969.
Our teacher issued what at first seemed a simple challenge: re-write Armstrong’s “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind” message in our own words.
But after struggling for what seemed like hours, I came up with nothing. I walked up to the teacher and said, “I can’t do it. What he wrote was perfect.”
As a professional communicator, I’ve always prided myself on the ability to edit. There are always words that can be revised or removed to convey a stronger, more concise message. But I still see no way to edit what Armstrong said that day.
He was not only the first human being to walk on the moon. He was perhaps also the first human being to craft the perfect message.