Godspeed, John Glenn

Growing up in a small town in the “Georgia Outback” I had a lot of time on my hands to read and study up on things.

In the discovery of reading, I developed heroes in the things that captured

my interest and imagination.  In baseball my hero was Hank Aaron, in football my hero was Jim Brown, in politics my hero was Barbara Jordan, in religion my hero was Billy Graham and in space flight my hero was John Glenn.

On February 20, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.  While I was only four at the time, the launch of his rocket is one of my most vivid memories.  I recall watching it as I sat on my father’s lap.

Later, my reading revealed just how high the stakes were when John Glenn lifted off at 9:47 AM.

  • The launch took place in a tense time when the United States sought supremacy over the Soviet Union in the space race.
  • The launch took place after 11 delays because of bad weather, or faulty equipment.
  • The launch took place even though Glenn’s Friendship 7 capsule set on top of a rocket that had failed in 40 percent of its test flights.

Scott Carpenter, fellow astronaut and capsule communicator for the flight, echoed the hopes of the nation when he said at liftoff, “Godspeed John Glenn.”

However, I suspect that this was not the first-time God’s speed had been with John Glenn.  He flew 149 combat missions in two wars and was a test pilot in the 1950s, when faster-than-sound airplanes often veered out of control and crashed in smoking heaps.

This was not the last-time that God’s speed would be with John Glenn.  For at age 77 – 36 years’ after the Friendship 7 Flight – John Glenn became the oldest person ever to go into space.  As he was part of a 9-day Discovery Space Shuttle Mission to the International Space Station in 1998.

Between the space flights, John Glenn built a successful career in business, served four terms as a United States Senator from Ohio, and raised two children as part of a strong and enduring 73-year marriage to his wife Annie.

John Herschel Glenn Jr. died on Thursday, December 8, 2016 at a hospital in Columbus, Ohio.   At 95, he was the last of the Mercury Seven Astronauts.  They were a collection of military pilots, turned modern day explorers, who Author Tom Wolf dubbed as having the “right stuff.”

A member of the United States Marine John Glenn rose to the rank of Colonel.  The prayer of the Marine corps says in part:

“Give me the will to do the work of a Marine and to accept my share of responsibilities with vigor and enthusiasm. Grant me the courage to be proficient in my daily performance… and if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again.”

John Glenn lived a life of duty, honor and responsibility.  However, as all of us do, he sometimes missed the mark.  He was defeated in his run for the Senate in 1964 and 1970, and had a failed bid for the Presidency in 1984.  Nevertheless, Paul’s testimony in 2nd Timothy 4:7 can be applied to John Glenn’s life because he “fought the good fight, he finished the race, he kept the faith.”

Godspeed, John Glenn!

Source material for this post came from: The Washington Post

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