Special Iowahawk Guest Commentary
By Barack Obama, Stargazer-in-Chief
When I learned of the untimely passing of Neil Armstrong I was, like all Americans, deeply moved and saddened. I share your sense of loss for this American hero, even if his fame had been eclipsed by others over the years. But in our shared moment of grief, let us also celebrate his historic accomplishment in becoming the first astronaut eulogized by me, Barack Obama, our nation's historic first African-American president.
Neil's passing gives all of us all pause to consider deeper questions. What does it mean for the future of space exploration? How proud would Neil have been to have a famous historic president refer to him by first name? And, most importantly, how did his death inspire that historic president to make ever more gigantic leaps for mankind?
For one thing, it inspired me to venture off on a historic twilight photo mission in a Maryland cabbage field. There I stood, gazing into the night sky, providing a dramatic backlit silhouette of inspiration for generations of future space explorers. In the centuries to come, space fans around the world will look to this indelible dorm poster image of Barack Obama, representing humankind's enduring pioneering spirit of exploration, and be spurred to dream their impossible dreams of Obama-like accomplishment.
As I stood looking into the night sky, at the billions upon billions of stars twinkling across their celestial field, amid the clicking of the photographer's shutter, I couldn't help but wonder if there were other life forms - perhaps other civilizations - out there. If so, were they looking back at us? Could they have powerful enough telescopes to see our planet in detail, and to observe the many ways I have worked tirelessly to make Earth a better place? Has my example served as an inspiration to the faraway aliens to work for their own extraterrestrial hope and change?
It was a moment that drove home to me just how significant I am in the grand scheme of things. As a result, I returned to the Oval Office with a renewed spirit to push the envelope, to strike out into the unknown, whether it be the vast expanses of space or the 2013 federal debt ceiling.
Yes, it is true that only a select few of us can ever aspire to be a Neil Armstrong or a Barack Obama. But I hope Neil and I have encouraged you to enrich yourselves from that vast, rich, empty blinking array of stars.
Which reminds me, I have another fundraising trip to George Clooney's house next week.