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Statement on the death of Captain Eugene Cernan

The NCSML remembers National Advisory Council member and last man to leave footprints on the moon

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (January 17, 2017) – The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library fondly remembers Captain Eugene Cernan who died yesterday at age 82. The distinguished naval aviator, “Gene” Cernan, was the second American to walk in space, the last man to leave his footprints on the moon’s surface on the Apollo 17 mission and a veteran of three missions into space. The son of a Slovak father and a Czech mother, Captain Cernan served as a member on the NCSML’s National Advisory Council since the late 90s. On June 14, 2013, Captain Cernan visited the Museum to celebrate the opening of our permanent exhibit ‘Faces of Freedom: The Czech and Slovak Journey.’ As the featured guest speaker during the celebration, Captain Cernan told the fascinating story of his life on both American and lunar soil.

Additionally, following the Flood of 2008, Captain Cernan served as an Honorary Campaign Chair for the NCSML’s Rebuilding the Future Capital Campaign leading up to the opening of the exhibit. At one point, he summarized his role in the campaign by saying, “My heritage is both Slovak and Czech and I credit the values my family instilled in me – hard work, determination, and perseverance – for my success in life. The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library is very important to me, and to the preservation
and teaching of those values to new generations. My compliments to the NCSML for its brilliant recovery plan – it promises an exciting future.” This campaign contributed to the recovery of the NCSML from the disaster of 2008 and helped to reestablish its cultural, social and economic impact on the Cedar Rapids community and the State of Iowa.

Captain Cernan donated several items to the NCSML’s collection pertaining to his Slovak and Czech heritage, including a certificate given to him by the Slovak government (Rad Bieleho Dvojkriza  / Order of the White Double Cross) and an Honorary Doctorate from the Academia Scientiarum Slovaca (Slovak Academy of Sciences) given to him in honor of his Apollo 17 Mission. A select grouping of some of these artifacts will be on display in the NCSML’s Skala Bartizal Library for a limited time. The library does not require an admission fee.

National Advisory Council co-chairs Sue Olson and Gary Rozek fondly remember Mr. Cernan’s dedication to the NCSML and his service as a member of the National Advisory Council. He will be greatly missed by both the Council and the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library.

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