John Glenn, the last of NASA’s Mercury 7 Astronauts (spam-in-a-can) died today at 95.
Most of the rest of the world is remarking on this event and the contributions that this extraordinary individual made to the US, to science, to manned space flight.
I would simply like to acknowledge that John Glenn was a hero to me, personally. He stepped into an extraordinary pair of shoes and wore them with style, humor and grace.
I admired and envied Glenn growing up; it would only be in later years that I came to learn just how extraordinary he was.
Glenn’s flight in 1962 gave hope to America during the dark years of the cold war; it also sold many Marx Cape Kennedy playsets, one of which I was proud to own.
In remarking on his fantastic orbital flight, Glenn stated that “I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of 2 million parts — all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract.” And yet even knowing of the possible heat shield failure, his heart rate never exceeded 80 beats per minute.
Glenn would go on to become a United States Senator, continuing to serve his country; he would also become the oldest person yet to go to space, joining a shuttle mission at age 77.
John Glenn was a hero in many senses of the word, and a steely-eyed missile man to boot.
“God speed, John Glenn”