Real role models

11/15/2019, 6 a.m.
We all need role models. We’re not seeing many coming out of D.C. right now, with President Trump’s criminal foibles ...

We all need role models.

We’re not seeing many coming out of D.C. right now, with President Trump’s criminal foibles exposed even more with the public impeachment inquiry broadcasts that started Wednesday.

We hope the people will tune in because the strength of our democracy may ride on the outcome of these hearings. President Trump believes he is above the law and, according to information revealed in recent weeks, is using aid to foreign governments as a bargaining chip to get dirt on his political opponents.

We have known since President Trump’s 2017 inauguration that he is using the White House and taxpayers’ dollars as a personal piggy bank to amass the fortune he has lied about having and continues to cover up by blocking the release of his federal tax returns.

If we can find one positive thing to mention about this president, it is this: Last week, he signed into law the “Hidden Figures” Congressional Gold Medal Act to honor the four women whose contributions to space exploration are indisputable.

Mathematician Katherine G. Johnson, now 101 and living in Newport News; computer programmer Dorothy Vaughan, and engineers Christine Darden and Mary Jackson, will receive the body’s highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. Ms. Vaughan’s and Ms. Jackson’s medals will be awarded posthumously.

A fifth medal also will be issued to honor “all women who served as computers, mathematicians, and engineers at the Na- tional Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration between the 1930s and the 1970s,” the act states.

The act was first introduced in February by Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas. It was co-sponsored in the House by 314 others, and co-sponsored in the Senate by 71, including Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia.

No information has been released yet on when the medal ceremony will take place, but we are heartened that the family of Ms. Vaughan, who died in 2008, has asked that her medal be placed in the Smithsonian — likely the National Museum of African-American History and Culture — for visitors from around the nation and world to see.

The fifth medal also is to go to the Smithsonian, according to the act.

Like the new movie “Harriet,” it takes a feature film to give some people an understanding of people who have contributed so greatly to our country. The four NASA women were made famous by the 2016 hit movie “Hidden Figures,” starring Taraji P. Henson as Ms. Johnson, Octavia Spencer as Ms. Vaughan and Janelle Monáe as Ms. Jackson.

We hope that people will turn to books and other non-fiction sources to learn more about the real women of “Hidden Figures,” as well as about Harriet Tubman.

We also hope this recognition will help youngsters to consider mathematics and the sciences for a future career, and that it will help boost the number of women ultimately who find their calling in applied sciences.

Certainly, seeing the gold medals that are struck on display in the Smithsonian will inspire people of all ages. These women are the types of role models we all need.