Sally Ride was the first woman to go into space, and in doing so, she touched the hearts and minds of millions of Americans. Her death at the age of 61 touches those same people, including other astronauts, President Barack Obama, newsperson Katie Couric and actors Tom Hanks and Soleil Moon Frye.
Grief knows no boundaries so there were none upon announcement of Ride's death. The lovely and incredibly gallant woman, died the way she lived -- with dignity and grace. That was despite months of difficult struggle with pancreatic cancer. It was the same qualities that friends, acquaintances and even strangers invoked upon the news of her death.
Fellow astronaut, Marc Garneau, who flew with Sally aboard the Challenger, called it "a sad day". He also called Ms. Ride "an extraordinary person."
President Obama appeared saddened by the news of Ride's death. He offered these remarks: "Sally was a national hero and a powerful role model. She inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars.... Sally's life showed us there are no limits on what we can achieve...."
The president's sentiments got echoed by actress Soleil Moon Frye. "For all us ladies who dreamt of being an astronaut...you taught us that dreams can come true."
Another actor, Tom Hanks, who played an astronaut in the film Apollo 13, had this to say: "She aimed for the stars. Let's all do the same."
Newsperson Katie Couric spoke as member of Ride's gender, "...She has inspired so many women," said Couric. "...Let us continue to share her story."
Even politicians on both sides of the aisles stopped fighting long enough to recognize Ride's death. Many spoke out on the astronaut's behalf, including Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and Barbara Boxer.
Ride achieved something women of her generation longed for. She proved a woman could do anything a man could do with the same strength, courage and intelligence. She provided a pioneer moment that lit the torch for generations of women to come. For that and for her amazing grace, Sally Ride will be missed.