A dozen men have walked on the moon. Then, there is the first, Neil Armstrong, born in Wapakoneta, his family moving from town to town in Ohio as his father worked for the state auditor. Mr. Armstrong came to flying early, and as a young man studying engineering at Purdue he thought he had missed his chance at achieving remarkable firsts in flight. Chuck Yeager already had broken the sound barrier.

On Saturday, Mr. Armstrong died at age 82 in Cincinnati from complications due to heart surgery. He did not miss the great feats. He was center stage, practically everyone can cite the first man who walked on the moon, even his first words about “one giant leap for mankind.”

The accomplishment was collective, meeting John Kennedy’s deadline of the end of the 1960s. Mr. Armstrong, in so many ways, represented what was best about the space program. As a test pilot, his technical skills and steady cool were legendary. So was his memory, little missing his attention or escaping his mind.

Yet what proved so appealing about Mr. Armstrong was his genuine modesty. He didn’t grab for celebrity. He had seen it all, the Earth from 250,000 miles, day and night passing in minutes. No one would top what he had done, the first on an other worldly surface. The immensity played to his keen eye, the accomplishment so large it humbled. As few others, he knew his place.