John Glenn 1921-2016
He wasn’t the first human to orbit the Earth, but he was the second. And the first American.
Ten months after Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin sundered the bonds of Earth and orbited our planet in less than two hours aboard Vostok 1, John Glenn took to the skies in Friendship 7, and did the same.
The year was 1962, and the starting pistol for the space race – the launch of Sputnik – still echoed loudly in the minds of the American public. We had fallen behind in technology and exploration, both symbols of what we thought was best about our country.
So when John Glenn, with his pleasant demeanor and Midwestern twang, lifted off from the Florida coast, the whole country went with him. Three-dozen years later, in 1998, he returned to space at the age of 77, as part of the payload aboard the space shuttle Discovery.
Glenn became a U.S. senator, and continued to serve America in that capacity for 24 years. He had, indeed, the right stuff.
John Glenn is dead at age 95.