May 21, 1963 - Addressing a joint meeting of the two houses of Congress today, astronaut Gordon Cooper concluded his 9-minute talk with a prayer of thanks that he had offered during the 17th of his 22 orbits around the earth. The prayer thanked God for the Major’s being able to take such a “wonderful flight” and see “all these many startling things that You have created.” It asked God’s help on future space endeavors and in directing man’s lives so that they help one another “rather than fighting and bickering.” And finally, for the families of astronauts, it asked for “guidance and encouragement and to let them know that everything will be O.K.” As he finished, the astronaut’s mother, Mrs. Hattie Cooper, brushed away tears and smiled. On the floor, there was momentary silence and then thunderous applause. From the Capitol, Major Cooper went to the State Department, where a luncheon was given in his honor by Vice President Johnson and James E. Webb, director of NASA. When it was all over, the astronaut was asked what he thought of his capital welcome. “Oh, everything has been wonderful,” he said.
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