The LuLac Edition #3371, December 10th, 2016
I was home on February 20th, 1962 when Glenn orbited into space. My birthday was the day before and I was kept home because of a bad cold. I had the privilege of watching the event. At eight years of age, I watched as NBC and CBS reporters and anchors (my father was a channel switcher) chronicled the event. The significance of the event in terms of history, the Cold War and other issues involving that day would come to me later. All I knew was that I had seen something special.
John Glenn died Thursday. He was 95 and his body will lie in state at the Ohio State House, then there will be a public memorial service. He will be buried fittingly at Arlington National Cemetery where his good friends President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy and former Mercury crew-mate Virgil “Gus” Grissom rest. It is ironic that Glenn was born in Ohio which was also the birthplace of Wilbur and Orville Wright and Neil Armstrong.
He broke the transcontinental flight speed record as a Marine Corps pilot. Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962 and 36 years later, at age 77, in 1998, becoming the oldest man in space as a member of the seven-astronaut crew of the shuttle Discovery.
When Glenn went on the shuttle, he was in his last year as a Senator. He won election in 1974 after losing a primary in 1964 to incumbent Frank Lauche and in 1970 to Howard Metzenbaum. He launched (excuse the pun) an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984. His campaign was regarded as dull in a field that included Gary Hart, Walter Mondale, Jesse Jackson and George McGovern. Glenn was well off because of early ventures in Holiday Inns near Disney World and a position as president of Royal Crown International after leaving the space program.
His last public appearance was at the Port Columbus airport terminal on June 28 as it was dedicated in his honor -- the John Glenn Columbus International Airport.
John Glenn’s resume and life are so storied that I’d run out of space to truly give it justice. But Glenn was the quiet, modest man who was successful but tempered in the fact that he realized what was given to him. He worked hard to become what he was but there was never the chest thumping you see today in people of note.
John Glenn was a hero, like all of the Mercury 7 Astronauts to people of my generation. These 7 men came from varied backgrounds to be pioneers beyond our world. These special men with thousands of dedicated co workers toiling in the shadows made this country not just talkers but doers. Their long shadows still resonate into this century.
John Glenn was the first of them to orbit the earth but also the last to leave it. That era is gone but let us hope, never, ever forgotten.
Here are some photos and video clips of Glenn’s incredible journey.