WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — As the world celebrates Neil Armstrong and the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, local leaders are recounting their encounters with the former Boilermaker.
State Senator Ron Alting of District 22 was one of the lucky people who got to sit down and dine with Neil Armstrong in his later years.
“I got the phone call from President Jischke saying that Neil Armstrong was going to be in town, would I like to have dinner with him and of course I paused, got my breath, took a deep breath and said well, uh sure,” said Alting.
Alting said it was a conversation at dinner about his cellphone that put the astronaut's accomplishments into perspective.
“The phone was on the table, he reached over and he picked the phone up and he looked at it and then he looked in my eyes and said, ‘do you know that the technology in your iPhone is far greater than that of the Apollo that took me to the moon and back?’” said Alting.
It wasn't only Armstrong's travel to the moon that stuck with Alting. It was the way he carried himself after his new-found fame.
“He could have made millions of dollars and could have done it overnight,” said Alting. “He never got involved in the retail of designing any shoes or hats or tee-shirts with his name on it, he never exploited what he did.”
Instead, he went on to become a professor at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. Alting said Armstrong's way of life still inspires him.
“This was a man of great humility, this was a very, very humble and special man because of being humble for what he's accomplished,” said Alting.
Alting said he did what anyone would do if they had an opportunity to have dinner with a man who's changed history.
“What I caught myself doing over and over when we had discussions was just staring into his eyes and I'd catch myself then stop because I kept thinking to myself what an unbelievable opportunity I'm experiencing looking into the eyes of a man that those eyes have seen only what few people will see,” said Alting.
Alting shared two dinners with Armstrong in his lifetime. Both times he's left feeling more inspired.