Celebrating a space pioneer

Yuri Gagarin statue at Adler Planetarium Yuri Gagarin statue at Adler Planetarium

Yuri Gagarin statue at Adler Planetarium

On Oct. 19, I had the pleasure of attending an event at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago that commemorated the 50th anniversary of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s historic mission in 1961, when he became the first human to venture into outer space.

The event included a dedication of a statue of Gagarin, donated by the Russian government, one of 11 that were donated to cities all over the world in honor of Gagarin’s world-changing flight.

As co-chair of the Moscow Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International, I had the opportunity to help organize the event as well as to invite some of the speakers who attended, including Romanian cosmonaut Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu, who discussed the significance of Gagarin’s pioneering flight and his personal experiences and mission accomplishments as part of the international space program.

The event began with a public panel discussion at 3 p.m., followed by a VIP cocktail party and the dedication of the statue.

Russian Pointe team members Debbie Chanel, Sasha Danilishen, and I attended the elegant, intimate cocktail reception at the Adler. Normally, the Adler offers stunning views of the Chicago skyline, but this time, huge 20-foot waves were pounding the building as 50 mph winds and rain whipped by.

The wild weather made me appreciate the powerful force of Mother Nature and highlighted just how dangerous it was for these brave men to venture into outer space and test the limits of the known world.

I was so pleased to have been part of this momentous event, and I hope it inspires more people to be pioneers in whatever field they choose.