Congress, NASA, Other

Gold medals: yes. Autographs: no.

This week the House and the Senate passed HR 2245, the “New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal Act”, which awards Congressional gold medals to the Apollo 11 astronauts and, for good measure, John Glenn. (The legislation passed in the House on a 390-0 vote, and by unanimous consent in the Senate.) The House also passed on Monday H.Res. 607, a resolution honoring the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11; a copy of that resolution was presented to the Apollo 11 crew in a ceremony Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

While Congress may have been generous in its praise of the mission, at least one member got “dissed” by an astronaut, in the words of Roll Call. According to the article, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi approached Neil Armstrong for an autograph—and got turned down, as he does autograph requests in general. “The Speaker would go to the moon and back to try to get what her grandson asked for,” a spokesman for the speaker told Roll Call. “But he learned a valuable lesson: You can’t always get what you want.”

3 comments to Gold medals: yes. Autographs: no.

  • Charles In Houston

    The capricious nature of these Acts shows that it is mostly for bragging rights for the members of Congress. They can send out press releases saying that they awarded a medal – while avoiding the subject of the sorry state of the nation’s space program.

    Does the Apollo 11 crew need or want another medal? How did John Glenn’s name get in there? Where is he gonna put another medal of his own? How can you award the Apollo 11 astronauts and not include the rest of the Apollo crews? And then the Gemini and Mercury crews?

    If the Congress would spend less self-congratulatory time awarding unwanted medals they might get more work done on the Federal budget. Then again maybe we do want them to keep their hands off as much as possible.

    And a part of the motivation for this response was the rare chance to use the word capricious in a post.

  • John Malkin

    Last night I was at the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 celebration in Chicago presented by Adler Planetarium. The guests were Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell with Buzz signing copies of his books after the evening’s discussion. Buzz said that he would like to see the US in partnership with international partners go to Mars with the first missions to its moons. He didn’t see the value in a moon base or going someplace, we had already gone. Jim Lovell was more for moon first but didn’t go into deep detail. On another note Jim claiming he was pulling Buzz’s chain, Jim’s response to doing Apollo over again — “Let Apollo 10 at least touch down”. It was a very enjoyable evening with Buzz buzzing through autographing about 300 books in 1 ½ hours. The event was sold out. One of the organizers said Charles Bolden was to moderate but pulled out due to his tight schedule. Also they tried to get Neil Armstrong but it’s very tough and he has 7 different criteria to choose which events he attends. I guess Gold medals met them.

  • [...] medals were authorized in legislation passed by Congress back in 2009. As the Orlando Sentinel noted last month, it’s not clear why it took Congress two years to [...]

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