John Glenn, July 18, 1921 – December 8, 2016

John Glenn in Repose at the Ohio Statehouse
John Glenn in repose – Bill Ingalls/NASA

Few will ever reach his heights. He was born and died here in my state of Ohio. For the 95 years bestowed on him, he captured the human imagination. John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. The sixties were an amazing decade for many reasons. From the works of Martin L. King, Jr to landing on the moon, America proved itself capable of being at the center of societal and scientific accomplishment. Russia had previously beaten us into space, obscuring our hopes to be first in that arena. What Glenn did was more than etch out a place in the history books for Ohioans, NASA or America.

Inspiration can come in many forms and have varying effects on our lives. Glenn became a symbol of how America can rally behind scientific achievement. He was an ordinary man who performed the extraordinary. When faced with impossible odds and doubt he stepped up into a role most of us could never imagine doing. How often do we get a chance to be a part of history and share the fullness of our capabilities for the betterment of mankind? In a time where fear of progress and doubt of scientific ability permeates the atmosphere, we should remember who we were before by recalling this man’s storied life.

John Glenn far right – NASA

The climate change doubters, those who think traveling through space is pointless and minimize disparities amongst cultural groups all play a role in stifling accomplishments of men like John Glenn. He wasn’t a messianic figure or miracle worker. He was more than a symbol of American ingenuity. He never belonged to just our country, my state or NASA. He, like all of us, belongs to the stars born from the same building blocks of life we collectively share. Godspeed on his greatest adventure yet on his journey back home.


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