|About Ron Ridenour|
The Russian ambassador to Denmark learned about Yuri’s orbiting the earth and his humanitarian vision as a school boy.
Yuri with daughters Yelena and Galina
Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin was born in Klushino, a small village west of Moscow, in 1934. He was the third of four children and spent his childhood on a collective farm where his father, Alexey Ivanovich Gagarin, worked as a carpenter and bricklayer. His mother, Anna Timofeyevna Gagarina, was a milkmaid.
When Yuri was seven the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union. They confiscated the Gagarin’s home and they “shipped his teenage siblings to slave labor camps and they did not return until 1945. Yuri and [brother] Boris sabotaged the German garrison in Klushino, scattering broken glass on roads, mixing chemicals in recharging tank batteries and pushing potatoes up exhaust pipes. One occupier tried to hang Boris from an apple tree with a woolen scarf, but his parents were able to rescue him,” wrote Paul Rodgers, April 2, 2011 in “The Independent.” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/yuri-gagarin-the-man-who-fell-to-earth-2257505.html
“Amid the horrors, one event stood out for Yuri: a dogfight between two Soviet Yaks and a pair of Messerschmitts, ending in a one-all draw. The Soviet pilot landed near Klushino and the villagers rushed to help. Later, a rescue plane arrived to pick up the downed man and Gagarin scavenged fuel for it. The next morning, the airmen awoke to find him staring at them, entranced. He was still watching as they set fire to the wreck and took off in the rescue plane.”
Yuri loved mathematics and physics, and made aircraft models. After the war, he went to trade and industrial schools in Saratov where he joined a flying club. He made his first solo flight in 1955. After school, he joined the Air Force and learned to fly MiGs. Upon flight school graduation, November 1957, he married Valentina ("Valy") Ivanovna Goryacheva. They soon had two daughters: Yelena and Galina.
After graduating, Gagarin was sent on fighter pilot missions however, he really wanted to become a cosmonaut. Along with 3,000 others, he made an application to be the first Soviet cosmonaut.
During the extensive physical and psychological testing, Gagarin excelled while maintaining a calm demeanor as well as his charming sense of humor. He was chosen to be the first man into space because of these skills. His short stature helped too since the capsule of the space craft Vostok 1 was small. https://www.thoughtco.com/yuri-gagarin-first-man-in-space-1779362
“As the cold war reached freezing point, the USA and the Soviet Union entered the space race both hoping to be the first nation to conquer space. In 1957 the Soviets, led by the extraordinarily talented rocket scientist Korolyev, launched the first manmade satellite (sputnik) into orbit. This was soon followed by the first animal in orbit, Laika the dog. Laika sadly never returned to earth but in 1960 the heroic dogs Belka and Strelka successfully orbited the earth for a day and returned safely, laying the final grounds for the first human space flight” wrote Louise Whitworth https://www.inyourpocket.com/moscow/Yuri-Gagarin_72055f
The 27-year old cosmonaut’s space flight lasted just 108 minutes—enough time to orbit the earth once. He reached an orbital speed of 27,400 kms per hour. In his first message to mission control he exclaimed: “The Earth is blue...How wonderful. It is amazing…so beautiful.”
Upon re-entering the earth’s atmosphere he encountered serious technical problems that could have meant death had he not ejected himself from the capsule. At 7,000 meters above the earth, he free-fell several kilometers before opening his parachute and floated down to the ground. Protected by his space suit he was able to withstand the air temperatures of -30c degrees.
English journalist Rodgers put the strange encounter in these terms:
“Anna Takhtarova and her granddaughter, Rita, were weeding
potatoes near the village of Smelovka on 12 April, 1961 when a man in
a strange orange suit and a bulging white helmet approached across the
field. The forest warden's wife crossed herself but the girl was intrigued.
‘I'm a friend, comrades. A friend,’ shouted the young man,
removing his headgear. Takhtarova looked at him curiously. ‘Can
it be that you have come from outer space,’ she asked. ‘As
a matter of fact, I have,’ replied Yuri Gagarin.
“This story of Gagarin's return to Earth after orbiting the planet, the most important flight since the Wright brothers' at Kitty Hawk, was widely disseminated, not least because of its symbolism – a Soviet hero being welcomed home by his fellow peasants, a wise mother and a child of the future. It is probably true in essence, though the details changed with each retelling.”
Back in Moscow, Yuri Gagarin was honored with a six-hour long parade on Red Square. Within days, he embarked on a trip around the world talking passionately about the wonders of the earth. These are excerpts from his key message in 30 countries over two years:
“Circling the earth in the orbital space, I marveled at the beauty of our planet. I saw clouds and their light shadows on the distant dear earth... I enjoyed the rich color spectrum of the earth. It is surrounded by a light blue halo that gradually darkens, becoming turquoise, dark blue, violet, and finally coal black. People of the world! Let us safeguard and enhance this beauty—not destroy it!”
On the day that the Soviet Union ushered in a new world, the United States President John F. Kennedy held a news conference in which he flatly lied that his government was planning any violent action against Cuba. “First, I want to say that there will not be, under any conditions, an intervention in Cuba by the United States Armed Forces.”
“The basic issue of Cuba is not one between the United States and Cuba. It is between the Cubans themselves. And I intend to see that we adhere to this principle.”
The next day, April 13, CIA Operation 40 was launched from Guatemala.
1400 paramilitaries, mostly Cuban exiles, sailed on US boats to Cuba.
The totally unprovoked invasion was underway. The same day, Secretary
of State (1961-9) Dean Rusk told reporters, “The American people
are entitled to know whether we are intervening in Cuba or intend to
do so in the future. The answer to that question is no. What happens
in Cuba is for the Cuban people themselves to decide.” (1)
In July, Gagarin’s worldwide peace mission tour found him in England for five days. His early experience as a steelworker stood him in good stead. Rodgers wrote about that visit:
Yuri “’received an invitation from the Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers in Manchester,’ says Gurbir Singh, an astronomy blogger who is writing a book on the spaceman's visit. [Yuri Gagarin in London and Manchester: A Smile that Changed the World]. The trip included the union hall, Marx's High-gate grave and an audience with the Queen.”
Singh concluded that Gagarin's visit left an impression that thermonuclear war could be prevented.
A son of worker-peasants, Gagarin spread their message of environmentalism, of unity and peace while United States was invading and murdering Cubans, and politicians such as the Democratic Party congressman Victor Anfuso was telling people.
“I want to see our country mobilized to a wartime basis, because
we are at war. I want to see our schedules cut in half. I want to see
what NASA says it is going to do in ten years done in five. And I want
to see some first coming out of NASA, such as the landing on the Moon.”
Anfuso had served in the Second World War in the CIA’s predecessor intelligence service, the Office of Strategic Services. While his Sicilian-rooted language style was less elegant than the Camelot President John Kennedy, they were in agreement that the Russians’ space achievement was a call to war for the Greatest Democratic Country in the World. To the battleships for winning the space race! Who comes first to the moon gets to build satellites for war.
(NOTE! When the Russians were able to establish their major space station, February 20, 1986, and when Mikhail Gorbachev was General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, they named it MIR (meaning “Peace” and “World”). That was one month after Gorbachev proposed a 15-year abolition of nuclear weapons. (2) )
Fifty years later after Gagarin’s orbiting, the cynicism towards
Russia persists even among America’s elite.
“Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev seized on the propaganda value of Gagarin's coup in beating the United States into space, sending him on ‘missions of peace’ around the world, to meet figures including Britain's Queen. ‘This achievement exemplifies the genius of the Soviet people and the strong force of socialism,’ the Kremlin crowed in a statement at the time.” https://phys.org/news/2011-04-russia-years-gagarin-triumph.html
This sarcastic take on Gagarin’s “peace missions”
being “crowed” about by sinister Kremlin leaders comes from
Science X and its US-based website. Science X prides itself in being
read monthly by 1.75 million well educated “sophisticated”
readers, especially scientists and researchers. Even these Americans
can’t see through the jingoistic imperialist contempt for propagandizing
for peace. Bear in mind that propaganda is not necessarily synonymous
with lying, rather “to propagate”, “to cause to increase
the number” of supporters to the views presented. My writing here,
and generally, is propaganda. I hope it is effective propaganda for
a good cause: for peace and justice. That is what communist propaganda
is meant to be, not that communism has always been so practiced but
that it has that vision. At least, it is a vision that humanity could
and should embrace. Certainly more so than the vision of its counterpart,
the imperialism and capitalism fostered by the United States and its
vassal states in Europe and elsewhere. Their creed is greed: profit
for profit’s sake. As Wall Street stockbroker Gordon Gekko roared:
“Greed is Good!” (3)
When Gagarin had time, he participated as a member of the USSR Supreme Soviet (national legislature), kept training for flights, trained crews, visited plants, studied, and maintained a family life. http://yurigagarin50.org/history/gagarins-life and http://tass.com/science/868892.
Yuri was also a religious man. He offered to rebuild the Church of Christ the Savior in Moscow, which had been blown up during the Stalin era. The church was rebuilt after the Soviet epoch.
Due to his high profile, many were concerned that if he traveled to space again he might die. So, Soviet authorities tried to prevent him from taking part in further space flights. Gagarin was forced to compromise and became the head of the cosmonaut’s training center. Gagarin also re-trained as a fighter pilot. At the age of 34, he perished on March 27, 1968 in a fatal training flight outside of Moscow at Star City. His instructor, Vladimir Serugin, died with him. They might have saved themselves by bailing out, but seeing that his MiG-15 would crash right into a village, Yuri maneuvered his aircraft outside the village before it crashed.
Yuri will be remembered for being the first man to orbit the earth, of course, but also for his many humanistic qualities. Maybe the peace tour Russia’s leaders sent him on was propaganda. But isn’t advocating for world peace good propaganda? Did the U.S. government send any of its astronauts on such missions?
US American artist Rockwell Kent beautifully expressed what Yuri was and what he stood for.
"Dear Soviet friends your Yuri is not only yours. He belongs to all mankind. The door to space which he opened, this door which the USSR and Socialism opened, is open for all of us. But for that, peace is necessary. Peace between nations. Peace between ourselves. Let the world celebrate the anniversary of Yuri's flight as a Universal Peace Day. Let that day be celebrated all over the world with music and dances, songs and laughter, as a worldwide holiday of happiness. Let that day be in every town and city square, where young and old gather and let their faces be illuminated with the same happiness that the photographs of people in the Soviet Union show how the Soviet people are happy and proud of the accomplishment of Yuri Gagarin." http://www.northstarcompass.org/nsc9904/gagarin.htm
1. “The President’s News Conference of April 12, 1961,” John F. Kennedy, The Public Papers of the Presidents, 1961. (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1962, page 259). And “Text of Secretary Rusk’s News Conference, Including Observations on Cuba,” New York Times, 18 April 1961.
2. MIR was the longest lasting space station, 1986 to 2001. It was the first modular space station and was assembled in orbit from 1986 to 1996. It had a greater mass than any previous spacecraft, 130,000 kilos. The station served as a laboratory in which crews conducted experiments in biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology and spacecraft systems with the goal of developing technologies required for permanent occupation of space.
MIR was the first continuously inhabited long-term research station
in orbit and held the record for the longest continuous human presence
in space at 3,644 days. It holds the record for the longest single human
spaceflight. Valeri Polyakov spent 437 days on the station between 1994
and 1995. MIR was occupied for a total of twelve and a half years out
of its fifteen-year lifespan, having the capacity to support a resident
crew of three, or larger crews for short visits. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mir
Russia launched its first space station on April 19, 1971. Salyut reentered earth on October 11. NASA’s first station, Skylab, was launched, May 14, 1973.
3. From Oliver Stone’s great 1987 film “Wall Street”. Stone directed and co-wrote the script, influenced by socialists Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis and Victor Hugo. Ironically, according to Wikipedia, several people were inspired by the film to become Wall Street stockbrokers.
Gordon Gekko’s speech to stockholders concludes:
The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed -- for lack of a better word -- is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms -- greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge -- has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed -- you mark my words -- will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.
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