President Barack Obama on Monday
announced that he will award a posthumous Presidential Medal of
Freedom to Dr. Sally Ride.
Ride, the first American woman in
space, passed away in July at the age of 61 after losing a prolonged
17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. She also held the
distinction of being the youngest American in space and the first
lesbian, though she never spoke about her private life in public.
Among those listed as survivors in
Ride's obituary was Tam O'Shaughnessy, who became romantically
involved with Ride in 1985, just two years after she made history as
the first American female in space aboard the NASA space shuttle
“We remember Sally Ride not just as a
national hero, but as a role model to generations of young women,”
Obama said in his announcement. “Sally inspired us to reach for
the stars, and she advocated for a greater focus on the science,
technology, engineering and math that would help us get there. Sally
showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve, and I look
forward to welcoming her family to the White House as we celebrate
her life and legacy.”
The Medal of Freedom is the highest
honor the nation can bestow on a civilian. The president will
present the award at a White House ceremony later this year.