Son Of The Blue Planet

Yuri Gagarin, first human in space, son of the blue planet

The world has its trouble and woe, but I’m not writing about that today. For today is a day of celebration, a day for the world to give itself a little pat on the back. Today, April 12, 2014 is the 53rd anniversary of humanity’s first venture into space, made by Yuri Gagarin in 1961.

Son of the blue planet

I am amused by some tidbits of information I have found about Gagarin’s life. I found them in the book Sons of the Blue Planet by L. A. Lebedev (downloadable at the Internet Archive). Gagarin wrote these words about his experience as a young man at Saratov Industrial Technical School:

“It is with Saratov that the appearance of a disease in me, which has no name in medicine, is connected: an irrepressible craving for the sky, an irresistible craving for flight.”

After his flight, Gagarin was a hero of the Soviet Union. He attended the 1966 Party Congress, where he dreamed out loud:

“Today at the Congress we are nine astronaut-communists. But after one year, after two, after ten? And who knows, some time after many many years, they will have their own regular party congress. Then, delegates from the Moon, Mars and Venus, would be sitting here…”
“You are letting your imagination run, Yurii Alekseevich.”
“But why not? At first fantasy, but later…the reality.”

My favorite Gagarin quote is a note he wrote and signed after his space flight. He wrote: “Orbiting Earth in the spaceship, I saw how beautiful our planet is. People, let us preserve and increase this beauty, not destroy it!”

I realize that some things must be said at this point. While I am not a great admirer of the Soviet Union, I would like to consider the flight of Yuri Gagarin to be one of its better moments. Gagarin’s flight was viewed by many Americans as an act of war by a hostile power. I prefer to think of it as an accomplishment of humanity.

«Alisa writes: I am very pleased to hear you feel that way, Douglas. Just as Neil Armstrong described the first landing on the moon to be ‘one giant leap for mankind.’ I never knew that Gagarin’s flight might have been construed as an act of war by a hostile power. I wonder where that came from? I would like to think that anything ventured in space is for the good of humanity as a whole regardless of the nationality of the astronaut or the country doing the venturing.»

People around the world are commemorating Yuri’s Night. Last year, I hoisted a glass of Russian Imperial Stout in Yuri Gagarin’s honor.

I raise a glass of Russian Imperial Stout in honor of Yuri Gagarin, son of the blue planet

Твоё здоровье, Ю́рий Алексе́евич Гага́рин! Here’s to you, son of the blue planet!


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