It is a year of milestones for Purdue in 2019. On May 6, 1869 our beloved university was founded, thus allowing us to celebrate 150 years. In 1919 Harry’s Chocolate Shop opened, thus giving us a centuty of the beloved Purdue institution.
And, of course, there was July 20, 1969.
50 years ago today Neil Armstrong, our most famous alumni, only spoke for all of mankind:
This is one of the crowning achievements in the history of mankind, and Purdue played such a huge role in it. We all know of Neil’s role as an astronaut on Gemini 8 and Apollo 11. There were so many other alums that had a hand in it. Roger Chaffee and Gus Grissom were tragically killed in the Apollo I fire in 1967. There is a very good chance that had he lived, Grissom would have been the first man on the moon instead of Armstrong. A total of 22 Purdue alums have been to space as astronauts with Loral O’Hara, selected in the 2017 astronaut class, leading the next wave. This doesn’t take into account the thousands of support personel that got the space program off the ground, of which there are dozens of Purdue alumni. This continues to today with our own DOCTOR Juan Crespo on the H&R staff working for the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab out in Southern California.
It is just really damn cool that our most famous alumni was front and center for one of the greatest achievements in human history. Even though Neil himself has been gone for seven years, he has left a legacy that will endure forever. With the renewed commitment to return to the moon the status of Purdue alum Gene Cernan as the last man to set foot on the moon will soon be moot, but Neil (and Purdue) were there first. Let’s celebrate that legacy today.