Press Release

Ranking Member Johnson Congratulates Congressional Gold Medal Recipients

By SpaceRef Editor
November 16, 2011
Filed under ,
Ranking Member Johnson Congratulates Congressional Gold Medal Recipients

(Washington, DC) – Today, Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) participated in a Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony honoring John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin. Sen. Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth and Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Aldrin were the first humans to walk on the moon while Mr. Collins orbited the moon above them in the command module. All of the men have also received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

A Congressional Gold Medal is Congress’s highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. The decoration is awarded to an individual who performs an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States.

Legislation bestowing a Congressional Gold Medal upon a recipient must be co-sponsored by two-thirds of both the House of Representatives and the Senate before their respective committees will consider it. Congress approved the New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal Act in August 2009 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing. S. Con. Res. 29, authorizing the use of the Capitol Rotunda for the ceremony, was recently approved by both the House and the Senate.

The full text of the remarks that Ranking Member Johnson presented at the ceremony are below and can be found here.

Thank you very much for this opportunity to make a few remarks as we honor these four distinguished Americans.

You know, “hero” is an overused word, but I think that all who are assembled here today would not hesitate to describe our honorees as genuine national heroes. In fact, the only ones who might object to that description are our honorees themselves. In an age of inflated egos and self-promotion, each of these gentlemen has distinguished himself by his modesty, his competence, his bravery, and his dedication to serving this nation. While we ostensibly are honoring them by bestowing these gold medals today, in truth, it is no less than a simple recognition of all they have meant to America.

As I said to Mr. Armstrong when he testified before our Committee earlier this year, America’s space program is as much about inspiration as it is about rockets and space capsules. And the four gentleman we are honoring today have continued to inspire young and old, even though their path-breaking missions occurred more than four decades ago.

They led the way as America ventured out into “this new ocean” of space, as President Kennedy described it, and by the time they completed their work, America was preeminent in space exploration.

It is our challenge–and our duty–to do all we can in these challenging fiscal times to keep that preeminence in space, because doing so will inspire our young people, strengthen our economy, create the jobs of the future, and benefit our society in countless ways. That will be the best way to truly honor the legacy of the four heroes who stand before us today.

Thank you.

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SpaceRef staff editor.