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House Science Committee Approves Construction of Memorial to Columbia at Arlington National Cemetary

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The House Science Committee today unanimously approved H.R. 1297, legislation authorizing the construction of a memorial to the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia at Arlington National Cemetery.  There is already a memorial at Arlington to the seven-member crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger, who died in 1986.

"No act of Congress can assuage the deep loss felt by the families of these brave men and women.   They left behind friends, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, all of whom must go about the business of rebuilding their lives.   We can, and we must, however, honor their dedication to exploring the frontiers of science-and draw upon the example they provided to inspire the next generation of explorers and scientists," said Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY).

Ranking Democrat Ralph Hall (D-TX) stated, "We need to honor the memory of the seven brave men and women who perished on Columbia.  They were true heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice, and we will never forget them." 

House Appropriations Chairman Bill Young (R-FL) introduced H.R. 1297 on March 13, 2003.  The bill makes $500,000 available from the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2003 (PL 107-248) for construction of a memorial marker to honor the seven astronauts aboard the Columbia, who perished on February 1, 2003.  The Secretary of the Army, in consultation with the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) shall be responsible for its construction.

In addition, the bill allows the NASA Administrator to accept gifts and donations of services, money, and property for the purpose of an appropriate memorial to the seven astronauts. 

"I hope that one day, young people will walk through Arlington cemetery, come upon this memorial to these heroes, these space pioneers who led the way for our country, and be inspired by their courage just as we are inspired today," said Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

Subcommittee Ranking Democrat Bart Gordon (D-TN) added, "It is fitting and proper that we honor the memory of the Columbia astronauts.  They died serving their country and in the pursuit of knowledge.  I hope that the Congress will move quickly to enact this legislation."

The House Veterans' Affairs Committee must also approve H.R. 1297 before it is considered on the House floor.  The Senate approved the companion measure, S. 628, sponsored by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK), on March 18.

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