Friday, December 9, 2016


If future linguists need an example to put in their on-line dictionaries for the phrase "a life well lived" they may want use John Glenn.  The last of the Mercury 7 astronauts died on Thursday at the age of 95--and it would be hard to find someone who may have accomplished more in that time.

Glenn dropped out of college to join the Marines during World War II.  He served as a combat pilot--flying 122 combat missions during that war and during the Korean War--earning 5 Distinguished Flying Crosses.  After that he did flight tests for high-altitude military aircraft before being tabbed for the Mercury program.

Glenn was the oldest of the original astronauts--barely making the age cut off of 40.  He helped to design the cockpit for the original capsules and for the Apollo capsules as well.  On his first orbital flight there was a concern that his heat shield had come loose--meaning it could have come off during re-entry and caused the spacecraft to burn up in the atmosphere.  Think about that stress the next time you worry about not meeting a deadline at your job.

After surviving his trip to space, Glenn left NASA to seek a career in politics.  He campaigned on behalf of Robert Kennedy and his ill-fated Presidential campaign in 1968.  Glenn was in the hotel the night Kennedy was shot and killed--and served as a pallbearer at his funeral.  He was elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 1974 and served for 25-years.  Today, he probably wouldn't be considered a Democrat--as he sided with Ronald Reagan on a number of issues and likely wouldn't see all people as helpless creatures that require Government assistance and protection at all times.

In what some considered to be a self-serving move, Glenn flew on the Space Shuttle at the age of 77--passing all of the same physical training required of astronauts half his age.  If NASA actually learned anything about "geriatric studies" from that flight is questionable.  But going into space at that age is still one heck of an accomplishment.

But what John Glenn would likely have been most proud of in his life is that he was married to his wife Anna for 73-years--raising two kids and two grand-children.  In a fitting tribute, he will be buried in Arlington National Cemetary--in the pantheon of other American heroes.

Despite all of these accomplishments in life, the mention of John Glenn's name at a Donald Trump "thank you tour" stop in Iowa drew boos from the crowd yesterday--showing just how far into the dark hole of partisanship we have gone in this country.  However, the rest of us who have a clue, wish John Glenn godspeed and thank him for one of the greatest American lives ever lived.

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