Across America, tributes to Neil Armstrong (+video)
As a blue moon rose Friday, people across the country celebrated the life of Neil Armstrong, who in 1969 became the first human to set foot on the moon.
The late astronaut Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, was memorialized in ceremonies around the country on Friday (Aug. 31).Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Apollo 11 went to the moon
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Armstrong, 82, passed away Aug. 25 due to complications resulting from cardiovascular surgery, which he underwent earlier this month.
In July 1969, Armstrong commanded Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission. His first words upon setting foot on the moon were, "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."
Armstrong's family, together with invited guests including the first moonwalker's fellow astronauts and the leadership of NASA, gathered at the Camargo Club in Cincinnati for a private memorial service on Friday morning.
The family's service was strictly invitation-only and closed to the press. The guest list was not released, but among those in attendance were Armstrong's two Apollo 11 crew mates Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, as well as Apollo astronauts Bill Anders, Dick Gordon, Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan. Mercury astronaut and former Ohio Senator John Glenn also attended with his wife Annie.
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) eulogized Armstrong, as did the astronaut's two sons Eric ("Rick") and Mark, and Piper Van Wagenen, one of Armstrong's 10 grandchildren.
"Today, we pay tribute to a pioneering American; an explorer, a patriot and an individual who, with 'one small step,' achieved an impossible dream. Family, friends and colleagues of Neil's gathered to reflect on his extraordinary life and career, and offer thanks for the many blessings he shared with us along the way," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in a statement. "A grateful nation offers praise and salutes a humble servant who answered the call and dared to dream." [Neil Armstrong Memorial Service (Photos)]
U.S. Navy F/A-18 jets flew overhead in a "Missing Man" formation at the end of the service in honor of Armstrong's service as a naval aviator.
According to NASA, planning is underway for a national service to be held Sept. 12 in Washington, D.C., although no other details have been released.
In the meantime, two NASA centers held public tributes on Friday.
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center, the visitor center for NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., hosted a ceremony around its 363-foot tall Saturn V rocket display, launching red, white and blue balloons in memory of Armstrong. Present were astronauts Owen Garriott, Jan Davis and Fred Leslie.