Obama Honors Apollo 11 Astronauts as 'American Heroes'

WASHINGTON -- Hailing the Apollo 11 astronauts as "three American heroes," President Barack Obama says exploration spurs ingenuity and inspires students in math and science. 

Obama commemorated the day 40 years ago when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took man's first steps on the moon. 

The president compared the astronauts' accomplishment to one of his own goals: America having the highest high school graduation rates in the world by 2020. Obama says that Armstrong, Aldrin and command module pilot Michael Collins were the touchstone for excellence in exploration that inspired the scientists of today. 

Astronauts attending the ceremony at the White House, including others from Apollo missions, made a pitch for a mission to Mars.