Huntsville, AL (WHNT) -- Barbara Gaff is visiting from Texas. She has long had a passion for space exploration, and after a meeting made her miss her flight home, she chose to spend her day exploring the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
Upon learning of the death of Neil Armstrong, she teared up.
"I remember when he landed on the moon," said Gaff, who had recently graduated from college when Armstrong took that first step. "I was on vacation. My family stopped early because I wanted to see him walk on the moon. We got to the hotel, got into our room and the television wouldn't work. I was just having a fit."
Eventually the hotel gave them a new television set, and she was glued to the screen as Armstrong made that giant leap for mankind.
Neil Armstrong brought his grandchildren down from Nashville to share his love of space. He too remembers July 20th, 1969 in vivid detail.
"My wife was pregnant with our second child and we sat in the living room. We had some friends that we called over and they wanted to go out. We said 'What are you nuts? This is landing on the moon," recalled Collins. "After they landed my wife and I went out and looked up at the moon and were just in awe that there were humans standing on that surface."
For many, to walk on the moon was thought of as mere science fiction. But for Armstrong, it was his dream to fly and explore. He earned a degree in aeronautical engineering, flew 78 combat missions in the Korean War, and in 1962 he joined the NASA Astronaut Corps.
Seven years later, he became the first human being to ever step foot in lunar soil. Armstrong not only made history, he ignited a fire in the hearts of families from across the United States, who gathered in front of their television sets waiting for those famous words: "The Eagle has landed."
"It was just unbelievable to actually see someone doing the impossible. And being an American! It was just, the pride I had in America, the pride I had in him was wonderful," said Gaff.
Today, Armstrong continues to inspire a generation to feed their curiosity and to believe in the impossible.
"You immediately realize it took guts to do what he did," said Tim Hall, a spokesman for the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. "When children think of him I want them to think of courage, I want them to think of pride, I want them to think of the future."