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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This morning at the National Cathedral here in Washington D.C., a celebration of the life of a pioneer. Neil Armstrong died last month at the age of 82.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Friends, family and fellow astronauts gathered to honor the first man to walk on the moon, a man they called a true, if reluctant, American hero. Here's NASA administrator, Charles Bolden Jr.

CHARLES BOLDEN JR.: Neil will always be remembered for taking humankind's first small step on a world beyond our own. But it was courage, grace and humility he displayed throughout his life that lifted him above the stars.

CORNISH: Bolden pointed out a special, stained glass window in the cathedral. It holds a sliver of moon rock from the Apollo 11 mission presented years ago by Armstrong and his fellow astronauts.

JR.: It's a reminder, not only of their significant human accomplishment, but an acknowledgement that achievements are made possible through God's grace and guiding hand.

BLOCK: Astronaut Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, recounted Armstrong's childhood: growing up on a farm in middle America, delivering newspapers, shoveling snow, nurturing an early fascination with model airplanes.

GENE CERNAN: Once he had tasted flight, Neil's eyes turned skyward, and it was there that he always longed to be.

CORNISH: Cernan said little did Armstrong realize that his dream of soaring with the eagles would lead him to become the first human being to go where no human had gone before.

CERNAN: Neil, wherever you are up there, almost half a century later you have now shown once again the pathway to the stars. It's now for you a new beginning, but for us, I will promise you, it is not the end.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLY ME TO THE MOON")

DIANA KRALL: (Singing) Fly me to the moon, and let me play among the stars. Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars.

BLOCK: That's Diana Krall playing tribute to Neil Armstrong at the National Cathedral in Washington today. The late astronaut, who was also a Navy veteran, will be buried at sea tomorrow.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLY ME TO THE MOON")

KRALL: (Singing) In other words, darling, kiss me. Fill my life with song...

CORNISH: This is NPR News.

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