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Public Statements

Honoring The Mercury 13 Women

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

HONORING THE MERCURY 13 WOMEN -- (House of Representatives - June 06, 2007)


Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer strong support for House Resolution 421, honoring the extraordinary accomplishments and courageous journey of the Mercury 13 women. Though largely unrecognized in history, these 13 female pilots displayed determination, bravery and strength in their quest for space exploration.

Selected from a large group of women, the Mercury 13 pilots endured and passed the same grueling physical and psychological tests as the Mercury 7 male astronauts. These women however, were tested not only on their ability to withstand the toils of space exploration but also on their capacity to overcome extensive discrimination in both their careers and personal lives. When championing their cause, the women were repeatedly told by government officials that any effort to put a woman in space was a waste of time and money. Given this lack of U.S. support, Valentina Tereshkova, a Russian engineer, became the first woman in space on June 16, 1963. It would be many years later, in 1983, that Dr. Sally Ride would become the first American woman in space.

Although the women of Mercury 13 were barred from space travel, disappointment did not lessen their pioneering spirit and quest for equality. We must follow their lead. Given our country's shortcomings in 1963, it is our responsibility today to ensure that future generations of women are granted equal opportunities to follow their dreams.

These courageous women demonstrate that the sky is not the limit and that as a Nation we must ensure that all individuals, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity, are encouraged to venture into the fields of math, science, technology and engineering. I believe we must instill the spirit of the Mercury 13 into our children today, by supporting innovative programs such as the National Science Foundation that promote technology in the classroom. By creating an environment in this country that fosters innovation and growth, we will ensure our businesses and workforce can stay competitive in the global economy of the 21st century. From new education technology and better math and science teachers to train the next generation of innovators, to the promotion of new sources of energy and the expansion of markets for our products, this comprehensive agenda will create a strong foundation to build the economy of the future.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to capitalize on this opportunity to extend an honor to the women of Mercury 13 and to ensure we never again allow gender inequality to restrict our citizens' ambition and potential.


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