In 1983 she became the first American woman to fly in space. I remember the headlines at the time, "Ride, Sally Ride".
Sally Ride had a PhD in physics. As an astronaut, she switched to engineering and was instrumental in developing the Space Shuttle's robotic arm.
She went up in the Challenger Shuttle twice. Her third flight was canceled after the 1986 Challenger Shuttle disaster. She never returned to space.
After she left NASA, Sally Ride became involved in education. Her company, Sally Ride Science, is dedicated to enhancing science education for boys and girls. The company's goal is to "educate, entertain, engage and inspire." Dr. Ride wanted to show kids that science could be fun. For girls that is often not the case. But Sally Ride was living proof that there is a place for girls and women in science.
Her family knew. Her friends knew. And, now, the rest of the world knows.
Some folks are saying her sexual orientation is a footnote to her accomplishments, and that's the way it should be. However, I think that trivializes her relationship.
Sally Ride leaves a surviving partner--not a spouse. Her partner is not entitled to survivior benefits under Social Security. She may be hit with estate taxes because the relationship is not recognized by the federal government.
There are people who oppose recognition of their relationship...for political or religious or some other impossible to defend reasons.
Maybe some of those people will consider what Sally Ride contributed to this country, to her family and to her partner. Perhaps they will start focusing on their own families and leave ours alone. Perhaps, just maybe, they will realize that denying civil rights to any American is just...well, just not American.
Sally Ride's sister, Bear, got it right when she said, "Who cares about them, really? There are those who are stubbornly ignorant, and if they want to continue in that, God bless them, but probably best not to talk to my family." I'm with her.
Sally Ride set the standard for little girls who believe they can do something spectacular.
She also made at least one not so little girl get those goosebumps of pride and excitement from watching a woman break another barrier.