(CINCINNATI, Ohio) — Neil Armstrong, the Apollo 11 astronaut who died last weekend, was remembered Friday as a space pioneer, a reluctant hero and a man who bore with dignity the burden of being a national icon.
A private memorial service, in suburban Cincinnati not far from Armstrong’s last home, was attended by family, longtime friends and fellow astronauts. Some of them spoke publicly or released statements before or after the service. Sen. Rob Portman, the Ohio Republican who counted Armstrong as a friend, delivered the eulogy, said NASA.
“He was a groundbreaking Naval aviator and the world’s most famous astronaut,” said Portman in a statement after Armstrong died, “but it was his humble and gracious response to the torrent of attention that followed his accomplishments that may have set him apart most.”
President Obama ordered that flags be flown at half-staff today, and a spokeswoman for Armstrong’s family said there would be a public memorial in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 12.
Two of Armstrong’s fellow Apollo astronauts, James Lovell and Eugene Cernan, spoke at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Friday morning, where a research fund was to be set up in Armstrong’s memory. The Armstrong family also urged people to donate to scholarship funds organized by the Telluride Foundation and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Charles Bolden, a former astronaut who is now administrator of NASA, was in Cincinnati for the memorial and issued a statement. “A grateful nation offers praise,” he said, “and salutes a humble servant who answered the call and dared to dream.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ahiza Garcia, CNN
Tara Bench, KSL.com
Ralph Ellis and Rosa Flores, CNN