John Glenn, Apollo 11 astronauts awarded Congressional Gold Medal

Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the crew involved in the first mission to land on the moon, and John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, have all been awarded the highest civilian award that Congress can bestow, the Congressional Gold Medal.

The four astronauts received the honor on Wednesday from Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell at a ceremony held at the Capitol Rotunda.

“They will tell you that they are not heroes. Don’t listen to them,” said McConnell, as reported by “America is only as strong as the citizens we produce and here are four of the best.”

“Gentleman, heroes or not, your acts were heroic,” said Boenher. “Today we add to your many honors, with respect and gratitude, the Congressional Gold Medal.”

Democratic House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi praised the men for their accomplishments, describing them as “four courageous Americans who represented – and still do – the highest hopes of a generation.”

[Image credit: NASA/Stephanie Schierholz]