WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- The last man to walk on the moon spoke about the first to do so at a ceremony Thursday in Washington to honor the late astronaut Neil Armstrong.
"Fate looked down kindly when she chose Neil to venture to another world and to have the opportunity to look back from space," said former astronaut Eugene Cernan, who stepped on the moon in 1972 as commander of Apollo 17. "It could have been another. But it wasn't.
"No one -- no one, but no one -- could have accepted the responsibility of his remarkable accomplishment with more dignity and more grace than Neil Armstrong," Cernan said.
Hundreds of mourners -- including Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins, the two other astronauts who piloted Apollo 11 to the moon on July 20, 1969 -- gathered for a memorial service at Washington National Cathedral to celebrate Armstrong's life, The Washington Post reported.
Members of the Armstrong family, who previously had been at a private ceremony near their home base in Cincinnati, were also present, including Neil Armstrong's wife Carol and his two sons Mark and Rick.
Armstrong was remembered as a "reluctant hero" who, although proud of putting his footsteps on the moon, always considered himself just one man among many who made the historic moment possible.
The memorial service preceded Armstrong's burial-at-sea, set to take place Friday.
Armstrong died Aug. 25 at 82.
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