Monday, May 20, 2013

Highest Presidential Honor To Be Awarded Posthumously To Dr. Sally Ride

WASHINGTON -- The White House announced Monday that President Obama will bestow a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to astronaut Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. Ride's sexual orientation was not widely known until her death last July when she died of cancer at the age of 61 and her obituary revealed she survived by her female partner of 27 years. 
"We remember Sally Ride not just as a national hero, but as a role model to generations of young women," said President Obama in a statement. "Sally inspired us to reach for the stars, and she advocated for a greater focus on the science, technology, engineering and math that would help us get there. 
Sally showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve, and I look forward to welcoming her family to the White House as we celebrate her life and legacy.”
At the time of her death last summer, the president said;
"As the first American woman to travel into space, Sally was a national hero and a powerful role model. She inspired  generations of young girls to reach for the stars and later fought tirelessly to help them get there by advocating for a greater focus on science and math in our schools. 
Sally’s life showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve and I have no doubt that her legacy will endure for years to come.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Sally’s family and friends."
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with the comparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States. It recognizes those individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors". The award is not limited to U.S. citizens and, while it is a civilian award, it can also be awarded to military personnel and worn on the uniform.
A spokesperson for the White House confirmed that Ride's partner, Tam O'Shaughnessy, along with the astronaut's mother and sister were notified last week regarding the president's decision. 
The medal will be presented to Ride's surviving partner and family members in an awards ceremony to be scheduled later this year at the White House.