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The Apollo 11 Crew Members Appear Before a Joint Meeting of Congress

September 16, 1969
The Apollo 11 Crew Members Appear Before a Joint Meeting of Congress John William McCormack, Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
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Chairing two committees and rising to the rank of Speaker of the House, John McCormack of Massachusetts served nearly 22 terms in the House of Representatives.
On this date, Speaker John McCormack of Massachusetts introduced the Apollo 11 crew members before a Joint Meeting of Congress. The moment marked the culmination of a determined American effort to defeat the Soviet Union in a “space race” that began with the launch of Sputnik by the Soviets in 1957. “We are honoring today three men who represent the best in America and whose coordinated skill, fantastic daring, and visionary drive have made history that constitutes a turning point of paramount importance in the journey of mankind,” Speaker McCormack proclaimed. Each astronaut—Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins—addressed the enthusiastic audience about their successful moon landing on July 20, 1969. Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, acknowledged the role of the House and Senate in the successful mission. “It was here, in these Halls that our venture really began”—a reference to the legislation that established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the funding of the space program by Congress. Before the conclusion of the meeting, the honorees presented Speaker McCormack and Vice President Spiro Agnew with two American flags that had flown over the respective chambers before being brought onto the moon.

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