Neil Armstrong Takes Last Small Step – Dies at Age 81

Neil Alden Armstrong, the man who made the phrase “”one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” has died today at the age of 81.  Born in Ohio on August 5 1930, Armstrong had a passion for aeronautics that lasted all throughout his life. Interestingly enough, by the age of 16 he was able to fly an airplane before he could drive a standard motor vehicle.


Armstrong distinguished himself as a flyer of Navy fighter planes in the Korean War, and served as a test pilot for the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, the predecessor to NASA. 


He achieved astronaut status by being one of two men to first set foot on the moon.  His famous phrase, “One Small Step” has become a historical marker, and has been referred to in countless science fiction and fact texts. 


After his retirement from NASA in 1971, Armstrong became a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati for nearly a decade and served on the boards of several corporations, including Lear Jet, United Airlines and Marathon Oil.


Mr. Armstrong also served as deputy associate administrator for aeronautics at NASA headquarters, coordinating and managing the space agency’s aeronautics research and technology research.


Read a detailed memorial to this great man at the BBC’s website, and follow the Brittish Broadcasting Corporation on Twitter @BBCWorld. 

Department of Defense Approves Rout 1 Expansion at FT Belvoir

The Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation today announced the approval of $180 million from the Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) for the Federal Highway Administration to widen U.S. Route 1 through Fort Belvoir, Va.  The expansion of U.S. Route 1 will facilitate a safer and easier commute for patients, service members, and civilian employees of the new Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.


Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said, “Fort Belvoir is a premier military installation with a growing importance in our defense community and the community of Fairfax County.  The expansion of Route 1 will improve the quality of life for all service members and civilians serving at this key post.”


“This project will create jobs, ease congestion, and improve safety and accessibility along a critical route for the area’s military personnel and others driving in Fairfax County,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  “Road projects like this one are what President Obama was talking about when he called for an America built to last.”


The funds will be used to widen — from four to six lanes — 3.5 miles of U.S. Route 1 from Telegraph Road north to Mount Vernon Memorial Highway.  The project will include new bike lanes, pedestrian facilities, drainage and utility improvements.  It will also preserve a corridor for future transit needs.


In addition, the project will improve access to Fort Belvoir at Tully Gate and Pence Gate, which serve as the main access point to the new Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.  The hospital receives more than 574,000 outpatients and 10,000 inpatients per year and impacts Fort Belvoir access for 23,000 military and civilian personnel in the area.


Acting through an interagency agreement, the Federal Highway Administration Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division will complete the project in coordination with Fairfax County, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and the command at Fort Belvoir.  Groundbreaking for the project may commence once all environmental requirements have been met.


This announcement marks the first funding approved under the $300 million program authorized by Section 8110 of Public Law 112-10, The DoD and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011, which enabled the Department of Defense to finance projects for transportation infrastructure improvements associated with medical facilities related to the 2005 round of the Base Closure and Realignment process.  In November 2011, OEA invited Fairfax County to apply for these funds after a selection panel comprised of Defense and Transportation officials reviewed concepts to improve access to medical facilities across the nation.

U.S. war in Iraq officially ends

So today marks the ending of the war in Iraq. The flag of the United States has been lowered, troupes are packing up their military toys, politicians and public officials stand up and give long speeches and the United States officially gives the Iraqi government and military a fond farewell.

“To be sure, the cost was high — in blood and treasure for the United States and also for the Iraqi people,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called. “But those lives have not been lost in vain.” The fighting resulted, Panetta said, in a “free and sovereign Iraq.”

So what happens now? The Iraqi people will still have disadvantaged splinter groups terrorizing the country. Bombs and other nasty stuff will still make the streets of Bagdad and other places unsafe. The United States, arguably the initiator of this war, has stepped out, and the military of Iraq is left to fend for itself.

I hope that what so ever happens in the years to come, we take to heart the lessons taught by losing over four thousand soldiers. With all that pomp and circumstance; all those lives lost; all to bring democracy, freedom, and sovereignty to the Iraqi people, I hope this time we do not have to go back.

It is time to take care of the United States.

In the words of John Lennon, “Merry Christmas. The War is over!”

U.S. war in Iraq officially ends –

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