Wally Schirra (1923-2007) was one of the original seven astronauts chosen for the United States’ first effort to put humans in space. He flew the six-orbit, nine-hour Mercury-Atlas 8 mission in October, 1962. He was the fifth American to ride a rocket into space.
During my teen years, I lived with my family in the Washington, D.C., area. It was a time of the Kennedys and the promise of a wonderful world to come. During my teen years, I lived with my family in the Washington, D.C., area. It was a time of the Kennedys and the promise of a wonderful world to come.
My focus at that time was on the developing space program. We came to know the names of each of the original seven astronauts. When each of them completed a “space run,” the city would host a parade through the middle of Washington, D.C. We went to every parade. I was entranced and excited by the whole idea of going to space and exploring new boundaries.
Fast-forward to the 1970s when my husband was stationed at Arches National Park in Utah. One of the original seven astronauts, Wally Schirra, visited the Canyonlands/Arches complex. His goal was for the National Park Service to acknowledge the passing of history via the space age and to preserve what was just being thrown away.
The park superintendent and his wife hosted a dinner party at which astronaut Schirra was a guest. What a delightful, intelligent man. In spite of his silly space-age sayings like, “I’m all spaced out” and “I’ve been around and around and around,” he had a genuine interest in the National Park Service policy of preservation.
I appreciated the opportunity to talk to him; I was truly star-struck with Wally Schirra. He was one of the originals.
Linda Reed, Grand Junction, member of Grand Valley Power