Explorers Heroes

Yuri Gagarin

by Sophia from San Diego

"Let's go!" ~Yuri Gagarin
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"A joking Gagarin replied: 'The main thing is that there is sausage - to go with the moonshine" (Smith, Graham. "'The Main Thing Is That There Is Sausage'). Instead of worrying that he was about to be the first human in space, he was worrying whether he had enough sausage for the journey. That man was Yuri Gagarin. Yuri Alexeevich Gagarin was born May 9, 1934 in Klushino, Smolensk Oblast', to Anna Timofeyevna and Alexei Ivanovich Gagarin. He grew up on a collective farm and later attended a school in Gzhatsk. He trained to become a pilot; and even though he was scared at first, he quickly dismissed that fear and become a professional. In 1959, he discovered about pilots being recruited. One of those contenders had the chance of becoming the first man in space. Interested, he joined and irrefutably passed the training. He was chosen, in 1960, out of two final contenders, to fly into space. On April 12, 1961, he flew into space, spending a total of 108 minutes in orbit. On the descent to earth, the capsule began to malfunction, and Gagarin was certain he would die. Luckily, he parachuted out quickly and landed safely" (Bizony, P. "Life And Death Of Yuri Gagarin."). He survived because of three heroic traits he had: courage, care, and dedication. According to Merriam Webster's Dictionary, courage is defined as "mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. Dedication is "a devoting or setting aside for a particular purpose" To care about something is "to have a liking, fondness, or taste; or to feel interest or concern". Gagarin does what I will call "multitasking": he mastered all of the aforementioned traits and sharpened them to perfection. Born with courage, he was committed and dedicated to both his favorite career and those around him; inevitably making him a true hero.

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     To be successful, a person needs to be courageous. Gagarin was born with courage and was prepared to die with courage. "A letter Gagarin drafted to be sent to his family in case he died..., and offered a glimpse into the steely-eyed courage of the young pilot.'I trust the hardware completely. It will not fail. But it can happen that a man trips at ground level and breaks his neck. Some accident may happen,....If it does... do not waste yourself with grief. Life is life, and nobody is safe from being run over by a car'" (Smith, Graham. "'The Main Thing Is That There Is Sausage').  Other people would have backed out of the dangerous voyage; Gagarin kept calm and trained on. He also demonstrated words of wisdom: everyone dies eventually, and there is no use grieving about a death. Being a hero came with sacrifices, and understanding and comprehending them was important. "We understood immediately the price that had to be paid for military decorations. We boys all wanted to be brave and handsome pilots. We experienced strange feelings such as we had never known before." ("Russian Archives Online Gallery Yuri Gagarin: His Life in Pictures.") Gagarin knew from a young age that he wanted to become a pilot. He would do anything for these military decorations, and knew that he had to sacrifice something in order to succeed. Yuri became a wiser man from his experiences, for it not only takes performing acts of courage to become a hero, but understanding that courage as well.


Yuri Gagarin during his endless training sessions. ( ())
Yuri Gagarin during his endless training sessions. ( ())

Becoming a pilot or cosmonaut requires hours of dedication to strenuous work and training. Gagarin was prepared to undertake the Herculean journey to become the first ever cosmonaut. "Yuri was subjected to extremely rigorous training: physical, mental, and psychological. He underwent long periods in a sensory deprivation chamber, experiments with weightlessness, endurance in heat chambers, and test flights under stress with every reaction monitored. He was calm, resolute and always had a sense of humor and he always finished at the top" ("Russian Archives Online Gallery Yuri Gagarin: His Life in Pictures."). All those arduous tests, yet Gagarin did not give up. Even though he was probably severely stressed out, he managed to still be amazing and be a champion. He also kept his sense of humor and calmness, which helped inspire him and train him to become the first man in space. Gagarin became committed in a special way, as his daughter Elena Gagarina says: "One the one hand, Yuri Gagarin was exceptionally committed to his service. A true military man, always reserved, a believer in discipline. But on the other hand, he was a very romantic person, because it takes a romantic to do what my father did" ("Gagarin in His Daughter's Words.") He remained stoic and focused in the face of dangers and hardships. And by "romantic", it meant that Gagarin was a creative person, which aided him to fulfill everything perfectly, because when something is fulfilled perfectly, it is he proof of much dedication put into it. Yuri Gagarin, stern, strict, and prompt, gave everything he could towards his training of flight.


Gagarin with his daughters Lenochka and Galya ( ())
Gagarin with his daughters Lenochka and Galya ( ())

Yuri Gagarin was preoccupied with all the work to do as a pilot before and after his flight to space; however, he remained good-natured and tried as much as he could to pay attention to be caring about everyone and everything. He also was an environmentalist. "Gagarin travelled to Britain, Japan, Germany, Finland, Italy, Canada and all across the Soviet Union spreading a message of peace, unity and environmentalism, inspired by having seen the earth from above. 'Circling the earth in the orbital spaceship I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world!! Let us safeguard and enhance this beauty - not destroy it'" (Whitworth, Louise. "Yuri Gagarin."). Not only a cosmonaut, but an environmentalist as well, Gagarin became concerned after seeing the beautiful Earth get destroyed. He wanted to preserve that beauty, and did everything in his power to spread the message of keeping our planet beautiful. He traveled the Earth and gave lectures on preserving the environment. Most importantly, he tried to be dedicated to his family. "He was devoted to his family, and they were never far from his mind. He mentioned during one test flight while experimenting with a golden sphere, 'Here I am, a grown man and a prospective cosmonaut, playing with a golden ball and holding a little flask of water to drink from. If only my little girl could see her daddy with these toys.'" ("Russian Archives Online Gallery Yuri Gagarin: His Life in Pictures.") Even during all that vigorous training, he constantly thought about his beloved family. He belittled the objects he worked with something more funny and playful. His family was important to him, and he found references to it throughout his life. It was thanks to the thoughts of Gagarin's family, and to the beauty of nature, that Gagarin managed through the tough times.

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The courage he possessed endowed him with extraordinary characteristics. He was strict enough, and he inevitably became committed and dedicated to the work he loved. However, he still put his family as one of his top priorities, and tried to spend time with them as much as possible. Yuri Gagarin lived up to his name. His personality had the courage required to become a cosmonaut. He wasn't afraid to die or fail, and he understood the sacrifices needed to fulfill his goals. Those sacrifices were hours of his time training, learning, working. He also kept his humorous personality and imagination, leading to enormous dedication, which is a crucial factor in disciplining the mind. One may think that with all that difficult work; he wouldn't be able to concentrate on anything else. Yet he did; his heart and soul was concerned about his family. He also, especially after viewing our planet from space, he tried to help conserve it by traveling the world and creating inspirational speeches. The answer isn't that Gagarin accomplished some record. I'm proud of the traits that he possessed, and that he was Russian. In those dark times of the Soviet Union, we needed to find a way to shine a bright light amongst the other nations. And then Gagarin appeared, and showed the other countries what Russia is actually made up of. Gagarin increases the pride I have in my country. Another trait I admire is his multitasking specialty. To do all those deeds, yet manage more? That is a feat that is near impossible to achieve with everything outstanding. And of course, I end this story with Gagarin's landing, a landing worthy of an inclusion. "Gagarin ejected safely and landed near a village called Smelovka in the Saratov region, not far from where his flying adventures had first begun. He recalled, "Stepping onto firm ground again, I saw a woman and a little girl looking curiously at me. I was still in my orange space suit, and they were frightened. 'I'm a friend!' I shouted, taking off my helmet.'Have you come from outer space?' the woman asked. 'As a matter of fact, I have!' I replied." (Yuri Gagarin: "Here We Go!") Gagarin, in the end, turned out be a normal man, with traits of a hero. We are also normal people, but we can each become a hero. Being courageous doesn't mean one has to fly out in space. It can be as simple as helping a community project. One can be very dedicated to conserving bits and pieces of our planet, and that will also define a hero. A hero, in the end, is a normal person who turned himself unique.

Works Cited

Bizony, P. "Life And Death Of Yuri Gagarin." Engineering & Technology (17509637) 6.3  (2011): 34-37. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 Dec. 2012.

"Gagarin in His Daughter's Words." RSS. Euronews, 12 Apr. 2011. Web. 20 Dec. 2012.

"Russian Archives Online Gallery Yuri Gagarin: His Life in Pictures." Russian Archive Online: Gallery Yuri Gagarin: His Life in Pictures. Russian Online Archives, n.d.  Web. 11 Dec. 2012. .

Smith, Graham. "'The Main Thing Is That There Is Sausage': Yuri Gagarin's Extraordinary Last  Words before Making History with First Manned Space Flight 50 Years Ago Today."  Mail  Online. N.p., 13 Apr. 2011. Web. 10 Dec. 2012. .

Whitworth, Louise. "Yuri Gagarin." N.p., Jan.-Feb. 2012. Web.     .

Yuri Gagarin: "Here We Go!." Spectacular Space Travelers. 20. n.p.: Oliver Press, 2001. Science Reference Center. Web. 20 Dec. 2012.


Page created on 1/10/2013 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 1/10/2013 12:00:00 AM

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Related Links

50th Anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's flight into space - Dedicated to Gagarin's 50th anniversary of his flight to space
Russian Archives Online - Gagarin's life in pictures
Yuri's Night - Yuri's night celebrates the first flight to space