Tribute to Yuri Gagarin
Committee on Space Research (COSPAR)
of the International Council of Scientific Unions
June 25, 1971
Speech given by John Young
It is my privilege to represent
the U.S. astronaut corps. All of us in Houston want to share in the tribute
to the memory of Yuri Gagarin.
It is difficult to realize that
only 10 years ago Cosmonaut Gagarin demonstrated for all the world that
man could fly in space. Though the lapse of time is short, the past decade
has given us the perspective to see the significance of his flight even
more clearly than we could that memorable day in April 1961. It was more
than an indispensable first step in man's mastery of space. It was a major
milestone on man's route to the Moon and some day perhaps to the stars.
When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin
landed on the Moon, they honored Yuri Gagarin by leaving behind one of
his medals. There on the Mare Tranquilitus it remains with a medal that
belonged to Comsonaut Vladimir Komorov and an Apollo shoulder patch commemorating
the American astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee. These
tokens lie near a plaque which reads: "Here men from the planet Earth first
set foot upon the Moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind."
We pay special honor to Gagarin
tonight on the 10th anniversary of his epochal flight. In doing so, we
honor the man and his deeds. In another sense, we honor something more:
all mankind and our common humanity. The life of Yuri Gagarin bears witness
to the infinite human potential for achievement.
Space flight, through the miracle
of modern communications it has done so much to amplify, has given us all
a view of the Earth that emphasizes its physical unity. The view of our
planet in all its shimmering beauty underscores the uniqueness in the solar
system. The image of the home of man - of all mankind - small and blue
and beautiful in the dark of space, dramatizes the need for all men and
nations to work together.
What better tribute to the memory
of Yuri Gagarin can we offer than the hope that the growing unity of effort
in space - which this COSPAR meeting so well exemplifies - may one day
extend to all the Earth.