A REQUEST has been made for Langholm to host a special memorial service to mark the death of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong.
The former astronaut who commanded the historic Apollo 11 mission in 1969 died at the weekend at the age of 82, following complications stemming from the heart surgery he underwent earlier this month.
His link with the Borders stretches back to 1972, when, three years after his historic flight to the moon, he added another first to his name, becoming the only person to have been honoured with the freedom of the burgh of Langholm.
Armstrong, always the reluctant hero who shied away from the cult of celebrity, accepted the honour because of his Scottish heritage and the fact that the ‘Muckle Toon’ is at the heart of traditional Armstrong country.
On March 11, 1972, hundreds of Langholm’s citizens thronged the town’s streets and were joined by the world’s press for the visit of Armstrong and his then wife, Jan.
Now local councillor Denis Male wants Dumfries & Galloway Council to agree to stage a special memorial service in Langholm’s Old Parish Church, where the freedom service was held 40 years ago.
“I have emailed both the leader of Dumfries & Galloway council and the council secretary as, after discussions with Clan Armstrong, it has been agreed to ask the council to mark this sad occasion with a memorial service in the Old Parish Church where Mr Armstrong received the freedom of the burgh in 1972,” Councillor Male told TheSouthern this week.
“Mr Armstrong was a man of world importance and the strength of feeling and affection for him from the people of Langholm has been unbelieveable.
“We need to mark this occasion properly with an appropriate expression of our feeling. The idea is to also invite a representative from the United States, with the service being scheduled for some time near the end of September.
“There has been so much interest that it would be remiss of the council if his passing was not marked in some way.
“Langholm is very proud of its link with Mr Armstrong and his official photograph still has pride of place in the burgh chambers.”
Armstrong was also invited to return to Langholm to mark the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, but declined.
Mr Male, who was one of those fortunate enough to meet Armstrong during the 1972 visit to the town, said the former astronaut had replied to the invitation saying he would love to visit the town again, but preferably at a quieter time without a lot of pomp and ceremony.
“Mr Armstrong struck me as the most wonderful man. He was a real gentleman in the truest sense of the word. That was a wonderful day for Langholm and one which will never be forgotten.”