January 31, 1967

Lyndon B. Johnson Writes to the Parents of Astronaut Gus Grissom, Killed in the Apollo 1 Fire

Typed Letter Signed
1 page
SMC 1459
On the day that Lyndon Johnson went to Arlington National Cemetery - along with the families of Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee, the remaining Mercury astronauts, Senator Ted Kennedy, Mrs. Robert Kennedy, and a national television audience  -  to bury two of the three Apollo 1 astronauts, he wrote this letter to Gus Grissom’s grieving parents:

Men of your son's utter dedication to country and cause are rare. The loss of such a man is humanity's loss. On each of the happy occasions when I met with Gus, I was impressed by the strength of his spirit and his cool confidence in the success of our space program… By his courage, skill and dedication, he has guaranteed future generations a knowledge of the universe that will enrich their lives on earth. Your sacrifice is beyond measure. But I hope you can take some comfort from the knowledge that your pride can be without limit…. Millions share our debt to you for giving Gus to man, and inspiration to mankind.


Johnson loved the Space Program; loved the astronauts; loved awarding Gus Grissom NASA's Distinguished Service Medal, for being the first American to fly into space twice. Burying Grissom, and his comrades, was a bitter responsibility – which he followed, still, with personal letters of condolence (see Johnson to Chaffee, January 31, 1976).
Typed Letter Signed, as President, 1 page, quarto, the White House, Washington, January 31, 1967. To Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Grissom. With transmittal envelope.
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