Legendary Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin took the upcoming film “First Man” to task for failing to include the moment when he and fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong planted the American flag on the moon during their 1969 mission.
Aldrin, 88, who was the second man to step on the moon, posted a picture on Sunday of himself and Armstrong planting the flag with the hashtag “Proud to be an American.”
— Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) September 3, 2018
Aldrin’s post came after Ryan Gosling, who portrays Armstrong in “First Man,” defended the filmmakers’ decision not to include the iconic moment, arguing it was not just an American achievement.
“I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it,” Gosling told reporters at the Venice Film Festival last month, according to Fox News.
Gosling, a Canadian, added, “I also think Neil was extremely humble, as were many of these astronauts, and time and time again he deferred the focus from himself to the 400,000 people who made the mission possible.”
Armstrong famously intoned as he prepared to leave the lunar landing craft, “One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.”
The Ohioan died in 2012 at the age of 82. Prior to being selected for the space program in the late 1950s, he served as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot in the Korean War and a test pilot afterwards.
After graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Aldrin also flew fighter jets in the Korean War and went on to enter the space program in the early 1960s.
He retweeted a picture of himself saluting the American flag close to the 49th anniversary of the historic achievement last month.
— Pir8lksat40 (@pir8lksat40) July 22, 2018
Aldrin plans to participate in events throughout the upcoming year leading to the 50th anniversary of his and Armstrong’s walk on the moon.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called the notion the moon landing was not an American achievement “total lunacy.” He noted, “It wasn’t a UN mission.”
This is total lunacy. And a disservice at a time when our people need reminders of what we can achieve when we work together. The American people paid for that mission,on rockets built by Americans,with American technology & carrying American astronauts. It wasn’t a UN mission. https://t.co/eGwBq7hj8C
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 31, 2018
“This is total lunacy. And a disservice at a time when our people need reminders of what we can achieve when we work together,” he tweeted. “The American people paid for that mission, on rockets built by Americans, with American technology & carrying American astronauts. It wasn’t a UN mission.”
President John Kennedy first set the goal of the United States reaching the moon by the end of the 1960s.
In an address to Congress in May 1961, he said, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”
JFK reiterated the goal at a speech at Rice University Stadium in Texas in September 1962.
Armstrong’s sons Rick and Mark, along with their father’s biographer James R. Hansen, released a statement last week dismissing the notion that “First Man” does not recognize the lunar landing as an American achievement, Fox News reported.
“This story is human and it is universal. Of course, it celebrates an America achievement. It also celebrates an achievement ‘for all mankind,’” the statement said, adding that “the filmmakers chose to focus on Neil looking back at the earth, his walk to Little West Crater, his unique, personal experience of completing this journey, a journey that has seen so many incredible highs and devastating lows.”
“First Man” director Damien Chazelle (who also directed Gosling in “La La Land’) added in his own statement on Friday, “The flag being physically planted into the surface is one of several moments of the Apollo 11 lunar EVA [extravehicular activity] that I chose not to focus upon,” he said on Friday.
Chazelle further stated: “To address the question of whether this was a political statement, the answer is no. My goal with this movie was to share with audiences the unseen, unknown aspects of America’s mission to the moon — particularly Neil Armstrong’s personal saga and what he may have been thinking and feeling during those famous few hours.”
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