Thursday, August 30, 2012

Two Astronauts Embark Upon The Ultimate Journey

America bade farewell to two of its heroes, both of whom
were revolutionary space explorers who fired the imagination
of our nation and the world and inspired the study of science
and outer space in our youth. Neil Armstrong, the first human
to set foot on another planet when he landed on the moon on
July 20, 1969, left Earth for the last time after a long battle
with a heart ailment at the age of 82. Sally Ride, the first
American woman to travel in outer space in her historic flight
in 1983, embarked upon her final journey after seventeen-month
fight against pancreatic cancer.

Neil Armstrong was one of the three-man crew on board
Apollo 11 along with Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.
On the moon, Armstrong took the first step on that planetary
frontier, followed by Aldrin. Collins remained in orbit
on board the command module. Your fascinated Peasant
watched the historic event on TV, spellbound by it all,
as did and were millions of Americans. Big stuff for an
11-year-old boy, I can tell you. Armstrong's stroll on
a planet other than Earth made me all the more proud to
be an American, as this feat reinforced the reputation of
Americans as the "can do" people, the people of accom-
plishment, the people who could push through boundaries
and make possible the impossible simply by doing it!
He would receive decorations of award from 17 countries
including his own, among the many accolades being the
Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Richard
Nixon and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor
from Presidential Jimmy Carter. Armstrong also received
the Congressional Gold Medal with his crewmates in
later years.

Sally Ride was the first American woman in space, and
probably the first lesbian in space. She was survived by
her partner, Tam O'Shaughnessy, a professor emerita of
psychology at San Diego State University and a childhood
friend of Ride's. Ride would name her the Chief Operating
Officer and Executive Vice President of her company,
Sally Ride Science, which assisted schools in creating
science curriculae. A very private person, Ride's sister
revealed her relationship with O'Shaughnessy upon Ride's
passing. Your appreciative Peasant's admiration for Sally Ride
is as boundless as space itself. Her life and career prove
that if you have enthusiasm, drive, persistence, and proper
preparation, you can achieve anything that you desire;
whatever labels you may wear have no bearing.

Godspeed, our valiant space explorers, as you experience
traveling in and exploring that frontier which lies beyond
the frontier which you have explored in this finite life.


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