Remember John Glenn on his birthday today. In fact, the American astronaut would have turned 97 today. Glenn was more than an astronaut. Professionally, he enlisted as a pilot in both World War II and the Korean War. In both, he earned medals for his bravery. He served his country as a senator from 1974 to 1999. The native Ohioan served his community through his committed work with the Freemasons. He was a Christian, a son, a father, a husband, and a community servant. Indeed, some argue that he was the perfect embodiment of the phrase, “God, family, country.”
John Glenn served many roles, but most often is remembered for his space flights. There, in outer space, he made history. Not once. Twice.
Historical Significance of John Glenn in Space
Glenn made space history the first time n February 20, 1962.
He was selected to pilot the Friendship 7 in an effort to orbit the earth. This was the first time the United States would send a manned craft into space. During this historically significant space flight, Glenn successfully piloted the Friendship 7 craft in orbit around the earth an amazing four times. His documented flight time was 4 hours and 55 minutes. He went into the history books as the first American to orbit the earth.
During that first trip into space, Glenn carried a hand-written note in the pocket of his space suit. It read, “I am a stranger. I come in peace. Take me to your leader and there will be a massive reward for you in eternity.”
Glenn made space history for the second time on October 29th, 1998.
On this date, at the age of 77, Glenn returned to space. He served as a payload specialist aboard the space shuttle Discovery. Glenn agreed to be part of this mission for medical research. NASA and the medical community carefully studied Glenn’s vitals before, during, and after the mission as research on the effects of space on the elderly. Researchers documented his biometrics, muscle mass, and bone density to learn more about the human body in space.
Why would he want to be part of medical research? As a Senator, Glenn was an advocate for senior citizens and better care for seniors. Helping older people was one of his lifelong political platforms. He put his commitment into action on this flight into space.
After this historic second mission, the spry senior citizen Glenn was questioned about his belief in God versus scientific data. His response? “To look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible.”
Medals and Honors
John Glenn accumulated medals and honors throughout his lifetime for his acts of service to God and country. In honor of his birthday, here are a few of the most significant:
- The Distinguished Flying Cross (Glenn was a 6-time recipient)
- Air Medal – 18 clusters
- Navy Commendation for Service (Korea)
- Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
- World War II Victory Medal
- China Service Medal
- American Campaign Medal
- National Defense Medal
- Korean Service Medal
- UN Service Medal
- Naval Astronaut Wings
- Marine Corp Astronaut Medal
- NASA Distinguished Service Medal
- Congressional Space Medal of Honor
- DeMolay Legion of Honor for his contributions to the Freemasons
John Glenn passed away at the age of 95 on December 8, 2016. Instead of mourning his passing, let’s remember Glenn today. Celebrate the birthday of this American patriot by remembering ha great man’s contributions to American history and his community.