>> Monday, July 23, 2012
I'm not a big one for memorial blogs. Great people die every day, often unnoticed by everyone who wasn't close to them. Famous people do, too.
Everyone once in a while, someone dies who is both great and famous. Sally Ride was famous to many people because she was the first woman the US sent into space (not the first woman in space - Russia had us beat by a couple of decades), the youngest to go into space and, for those who care about such things, the first lesbian in space (someone's sexual orientation, to me, is not important, but I can understand her being an inspiration to many for that reason).
For me, those are trivia question answers, not why someone is "great". She was a good and dedicated scientist, an accomplished astronaut who went on to teach and make a difference in the world of science and space long after she stopped being an astronaut. And that's good.
But, to me, she was great because of how she cared about space and science, how she dedicated so much of her life to sharing that love with children. To me, she was great because she understood what was really important and stood up for those who were worried about safety when everyone else was on gung-ho fast forward. She brought that sense of practicality and understanding of priorities to everything she did, which was why she was so popular on studies and reviews in her lifetime.
To me, she wasn't great because she was an astronaut. She was an astronaut because she was great. She spent all her life trying to make the world better than it was when she came in, mostly in a quiet but profound way.
She will be missed.