I don’t usually write about the death of politicians or any other famous people for that matter. However, John Glenn was someone very special and deserves to be remembered by all of us.
John Glenn left us for the stars at the age of 95. When I was a kid, I watched him being named as one of the original seven astronauts for our country. He was the first American to orbit the earth. It was a three round orbit and lasted four hours and 55 minutes.
When he returned to earth he was called a true American Hero. During the fight there were a couple of problems. It was even possible that these problems could have resulted in him burning up in re-entry. The odd part, and one that really shows just what kind of person he was happened on the launch pad.
While awaiting liftoff, his heartbeat monitor was registering his heart rate between 60 and 80 beats per minute. Not something you would expect from someone being nervous, but someone being bored.
John Glenn fought in World War II and in the Korean War. He left college after the Pearl Harbor to join the Navy’s aviation program. He flew 59 combat missions during World War II and 90 during the Korean War.
John Glenn is best known for his time at NASA. He is called a hero because he was the first American to orbit the earth. But, what is being lost is all of this is it was John Glenn that was a key member that saved the Apollo Mission.
When we lost the three astronauts in the Apollo I fire, many people in congress wanted to scrap the mission as being too dangerous. Many people forget that it was John Glenn who testified before congress to explain the dangers involved and the fact that these brave men understood and were willing to face those dangers.
You may not remember, but it was John Glenn who saved our moon mission. The bad part was that he never got a chance to go to the moon himself. And, he deserved to go there himself.
When I was stationed in Washington, D.C. I had a chance to meet John Glenn. Although the meeting was for only about 2 minutes and more of a greeting, I was struck by how he conducted himself. He was a true gentleman and statesman.
The only regret I have is that I didn’t get an opportunity to talk with him for any length of time. There were so many questions I wanted to ask him. I never had a lot of heroes in my life except my dad, but John Glenn was a hero to me.
He and the rest of the Mercury 7 astronauts were heroes to many of us. They opened our eyes to the real possibilities of the world. They got us to look up and dream of the possibilities that mankind could reach. They taught us to look to the stars and explore the universe.
Those of us who grew up in the 50s and 60s were captivated by the space program. We watched every single launch we could. Schools would actually bring in television sets during class to watch the lift-offs. It was something every American was proud of.
When we finally landed on the moon, the entire world stopped everything they were doing and watched. It was the men like John Glenn who made all of that possible. To show the real courage of these people, you must also remember the pocket calculator you use every day has more computing power than the computers used to take us to the moon and back.
Glenn never stopped supporting NASA and has worked to keep it on mission to go to Mars. John Glenn was a remarkable man. Yet, he never seemed to take on the aura of someone “famous”. He was a humble man who simply believed in what he was doing and in his country.
Don’t forget, Glenn was recently in Antarctica. When he got sick, they airlifted him out. He was 95 years old and willing to do some work in Antarctica. That is about all you need to know to figure the kind of man he was.
Glenn was the last of the original Mercury seven astronauts. Governor Kasich said:
As we bow our heads and share our grief with his beloved wife, Annie, we must also turn to the skies, to salute his remarkable journeys and his long years of service to our state and nation.
The White House said in a statement:
John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond ― not just to visit, but to stay. The last of America’s first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on Earth compels us to keep reaching for the heavens.
NASA called him “A True American Hero”. They also wrote: “God speed John Glenn – Ad Astra.” Ad Astra is Latin for “to the stars”.
Somehow, I get the feeling that if we look at the moon tonight, we will be able to see John Glenn finally getting to walk around there. His spirit is what led our nation to the stars and will continue to lead us there if we remember him.
I plan to look up tonight. I am sure I will see him walking around and waving back. I am not religious, but I want to echo NASA in saying “God speed John Glenn – to the stars”.