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Rated: E · Short Story · Biographical · #2087016
A dialogue between a journalist and Neil Armstrong--written for June's "The Challenge"
"One Small Step for a Man?"

While the dialogue was created, the situations referenced in this faux interview are all real.

"Are you ready to start, Mike? Okay, testing...one...two...okay. Now, Mr. Armstrong..."

"Please, call me Neil."

"Okay, Neil, let's start by talking about those famous words of yours. When exactly did you come up with those? Some say you came up with them at the spur of the moment, just prior to exiting the lunar module to descend to the moon. Others say you came up with them months before."

"Ah, yes. I'm not sure why it's so important to people and it was decades ago, but I believe I came up with a variation of the words months before with a few other ideas in mind, then just before stepping out, that's when it all sort of gelled in my head. But I pretty well knew what I was probably going to say ahead of time."

"So, I assume you know what I'm going to ask about next...Did you truly say, 'One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind?' Because that's certainly not what it sounds like."

"I agree. It's not at all. I insisted that I did say 'a man' until I listened to the recording repeatedly because I truly believe I wouldn't make such a mistake. But as I've said before, 'I would hope that history would grant me leeway for dropping the syllable and understand that it was certainly intended, even if it was not said--although it might actually have been.'" While I agree that it certainly doesn't sound like it was there, there is now research to support my original claim that it is what I said."

"You're referring to the computer programmer in Australia, Peter Shann Ford, who used acoustic analysis to analyze the recordings."

"Yes. Have you read his article, 'Electronic Evidence and Physiological Reasoning Identifying the Elusive Vowel "a" in Neil Armstrong's Statement on First Stepping onto the Lunar Surface'? It's really quite fascinating, if you ask me."

"Well, Mr. Arm--Neil, isn't it awfully convenient that after all these years, suddenly someone is able to discover what you said nearly forty years ago?"

"Convenient? No. Convenient would have been if they could have discovered it within hours of my return, rather than this haunting me, even causing me to doubt what I believed to be true for all these years. It certainly wasn't convenient."

"If it's true, why did Mr. Ford publish it on his own blog, rather than a peer-reviewed journal?"

"I'm afraid you'd have to ask him yourself. I never bothered to. I'm sorry, but I'm afraid my break is over. It's back to being Mr. Jack Morrow for the upcoming animated educational sci-fi adventure movie, 'Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey.' I certainly hope you'll be back to interview me about that in the future. It's a great project."

"I hope so too, Neil. Thank you for your time."

"Yes, now to work..."

Link to portions of the Peter Shann Ford article. http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-100306a.html

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