WAPAKONETA — Where were you on July 20, 1969?
A lot of people might answer with “at home watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon on my black and white television,” while there are those who say, “I wasn’t even born yet.”
One of the latter is Deanna Kindell, of Sidney. By living so close to Wapakoneta, it would be hard to say that you have never heard of Neil Armstrong. Although Kindell jokes when she says she wasn’t born yet on that historic day in 1969, now she’s quickly learning about the life and career of Neil Armstrong.
Since January, she has been the development coordinator for the Armstrong Air & Space Museum and is loving the work, as well as the learning process.
Her first day on the job, she found that she has to walk by the replica of the lunar roving vehicle to get to her office. The museum also has a one-fourth scale model of Curiosity, the Mars rover.
She, at times, hangs out in the gift shop if there happens to be a lot of people in the museum and says people love to tell you what they were doing on the day he walked on the moon. They even bring by stacks of newspapers for the museum to sort through for articles on Armstrong.
Part of her learning process includes reading “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong” by James R. Hansen. Hansen says, “When Apollo 11 touched down on the Moon’s surface in 1969, the first man on the Moon became a legend.” The book is the only true biography about Armstrong, as Hansen is the only person who was allowed to talk with the astronaut about his life and career.
Kindell says one of the more interesting parts of the book was the speech he would give if they were not able to get back to earth on their first attempt to land and walk on the moon.
The book will become a movie in October starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong and is available for purchase at the museum gift shop.
She stated that she has always been interested in astronauts and space, and now she gets to be involved in part of it every day.
Since January, she has also had the honor of meeting some of the Armstrong family and has jumped right into helping plan the Summer Moon Festival, July 20-22, and a “dinner with an astronaut,” a fundraiser for the museum. Those interested in tickets can go to www.armstrongmuseum.org/dinner.
In October, the museum will host a Mystery Masquerade costume dinner as another fundraiser. It should be exciting, as best costume will win a prize.
The museum has an award-winning educational/outreach program and is always looking for volunteers. Hundreds of students pass through the museum’s doors annually, learning about the NASA space program through the life of Neil Armstrong. Kindell has a goal and would like to see 200 people become members of the museum. The membership application can be found online.
Kindell is a 1988 graduate of Sidney High School. She’s an associate member of Charity League, former Altrusa member and an alumni of the Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) Leadership program. She and her husband, Greg, have been volunteering with the AFS Foreign Exchange program since 2013 and have hosted 11 students. Her association with the students helped recently when she had some of them translate an audio tour of the museum into their own language.
The museum is part of the Ohio History Connection. Located at 500 Apollo Drive, Wapakoneta, it is open to the public, Monday through Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
For information, visit www.armstrongmueseum.org.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.