With the recent passing of the first man to step on the moon, Neil Armstrong, Windsor Heights former City Council member Steve Peterson was able to commemorate the astronaut with a piece of history in a way that many other people could not.
As a young photojournalist for the yearbook at Drake University, Peterson was fortunate enough to be allowed to join Armstrong on the stage and capture photos of the Good Samaritan receiving his first honorary doctorate degree in 1972 from the University.
“Nobody else was on stage taking pictures,” Peterson commented. “I was the only one from Drake to have these pictures.”
Peterson would later send Armstrong two sets of the photos, one for him to keep and one in hopes he would autograph them and send them back as a keepsake.
“He did not give out autographs often,” Peterson says. “He would always say that he was just doing his job.”
To Peterson’s delight, Armstrong sent back the autographed photos, which he now can proudly show when commemorating the great astronaut.
“They are quite a treasure for me,” Peterson says.
Armstrong, who passed away in August 2012, was not only the first man on the moon in Apollo 11, but also the one to utter the famous phrase, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Peterson, who stores his portrait-sized, autographed photos in a box in his garage, had each of the four colorful pictures matted on black paper.
“I knew I wanted to keep them nice,” commented Peterson. “The last one is my favorite.”
The photo Peterson refers to shows a grinning Armstrong decked out in his robe and honorary hood to certify his newly-obtained honorary degree. Inscribed on the bottom of the photo is a special note to Peterson himself, thanking him for the photos and sincere best wishes.
Although Peterson never pursued a career in photojournalism he says, “I never would’ve gotten this opportunity had I not been working for the school yearbook, I feel very fortunate for the opportunity to have met such an important figure.”
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