Business, Finance & Economics

Astronauts awarded Congressional Gold Medals


Astronaut Neil Armstrong delivers remarks after being presented with the Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol November 16, 2011 in Washington, DC.


Chip Somodevilla

The first American astronaut to orbit the Earth and the crew of Apollo 11 received Congressional Gold Medals on Wednesday.

John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins each received the nation's highest civilian honor, The Los Angeles Times reported.

"Walk up to virtually anyone on the street and they’ll be able to tell you the names of our first president, our current president, the first American to orbit the Earth, and the first Americans to land on the Moon," Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) said at a Capitol Rotunda ceremony. 

According to, the medals were presented by Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

The Houston Chronicle reported that Glenn said he and his fellow astronauts were lucky to have the chance to explore space. 

"We have lived at a time," said Glenn, "when the dream became reality."

Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth in 1961, and later served as a senator from Ohio. In 1969, Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, Aldrin was the second. Collins piloted Apollo 11’s command module. 

"Our school children and others will be reading about them for hundreds of years," Hall said, according to the Chronicle.