After they landed, the cosmonauts and astronauts immediately became national heroes. Thousands gathered in the hope of capturing a glimpse of this new breed of explorer.
When Gagarin returned to Moscow on April 14, 1961, he was paraded from the airport to Red Square, where Soviet leaders greeted him at Lenin's Tomb. This was the largest celebration in Moscow since the end of World War II.
In the American tradition of returning heroes, Alan Shepard received an award from President Kennedy at the White House and a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.