It's not easy to find a hero. Celebrities and athletes are often idolized, but for less than ideal reasons, such as superficial strength and fleeting victories. And the high standards to which role models are held makes it all the easier for them to fall.
So it is an honor today to acknowledge the 80th birthday of astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second person to ever walk on the moon. In 1969, he and his team risked their lives to boldly go where no human had gone before. They didn't know if they'd return, but they believed in the scientific and inspirational value of their mission, and they accepted all its inherent dangers.
Mr. Aldrin's reputation isn't limited to that one event forty years ago. Since then, he has continued to be an outspoken supporter of space exploration — and, when need be, a critic of NASA. His public appearances run the gamut from interviews in the Ron Howard documentary In the Shadow of the Moon to an avuncular encounter on Sesame Street:
Like many celebrities, Mr. Aldrin has a versatile online presence. His official Web site has news, interviews, and videos. There, you can purchase his autobiography, Magnificent Desolation, released on June 23, 2009, in which he relates his post-retirement battles with depression and alcoholism; or learn about his upcoming iPhone application. You can follow him on Twitter at @TheRealBuzz and be his fan on Facebook.
A hero takes every opportunity he can to make the world a better place, and Mr. Aldrin's eightieth birthday is no exception: he asks that you please donate whatever you can afford to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund for disaster relief.
Thank you, Mr. Aldrin, for all your work in lifting this planet's inhabitants to the stars.
(Hat tip to Dayton Ward)