Today everyone ‘is a hero’. But some leave legacies so breathtaking that NOBODY can dispute their accomplishments. Today, America — and the world — say goodbye to one such man.
Heroes today are pretty ordinary things. Domesticated, almost.
Become an a-lister in music, Hollywood, politics or athletics, and you’re a ‘Hero’. Go public with an embarrassing or debilitating illness, you’re a hero.
Inject your sexuality into the NFL draft process (and then fade into a second-string position on a second-rate Canadian team?) Hailed as a hero.
The word means about as much these days as Barack ‘The War President’ Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.
It wasn’t always the case. Before we wrapped the world in Political Correctness and bubble-wrap, there was a time where the imaginations of young boys was flooded with the images of men who displayed great feats of courage.
Not just the kind we admired in men like Evel Knievel, or his son Robbie, jumping motorcycles over impossible distances, sometimes sticking the landing… other times smashing almost every bone in their bodies.
The kind of courage of people who signed up to be the FIRST to do something… to take on a risk…
Test pilots. Sound Barriers. Space. The MOON!
There was a time that these were not ‘ordinary’ or ‘safe’ things to do. All you need to do is watch the Space X footage to remember how easily something can go wrong. Or TWO Shuttle failures.
No. John Glenn was the REAL DEAL. The sort of man who pressed known limits, and blew through them. Who made young boys lift their eyes to the horizon — or the Heavens! — in search of a life that was in some way… EXCEPTIONAL.
It made young boys want to BE like him. THAT was what being a man could mean!
NASA gave an official statement in response to his passing.
The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the passing of Sen. John Glenn:
“Today, the first American to orbit the Earth, NASA astronaut and Ohio Senator John Glenn, passed away. We mourn this tremendous loss for our nation and the world. As one of NASA’s original Mercury 7 astronauts, Glenn’s riveting flight aboard Friendship 7 on Feb. 20, 1962, united our nation, launched America to the forefront of the space race, and secured for him a unique place in the annals of history.
“While that first orbit was the experience of a lifetime, Glenn, who also had flown combat missions in both World War II and the Korean War as a Marine aviator, continued to serve his country as a four-term Senator from Ohio, as a trusted statesman, and an educator. In 1998, at the age of 77, he became the oldest human to venture into space as a crew member on the Discovery space shuttle — once again advancing our understanding of living and working in space.
“He earned many honors for both his military and public service achievements. In 2012, President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor the country can bestow, and he also received the Congressional Gold Medal.
“Glenn’s extraordinary courage, intellect, patriotism and humanity were the hallmarks of a life of greatness. His missions have helped make possible everything our space program has since achieved and the human missions to an asteroid and Mars that we are striving toward now.
“With all his accomplishments, he was always focused on the young people of today, who would soon lead the world. ‘The most important thing we can do is inspire young minds and advance the kind of science, math and technology education that will help youngsters take us to the next phase of space travel,’ he said. ‘To me, there is no greater calling … If I can inspire young people to dedicate themselves to the good of mankind, I’ve accomplished something.’
“Senator Glenn’s legacy is one of risk and accomplishment, of history created and duty to country carried out under great pressure with the whole world watching. The entire NASA Family will be forever grateful for his outstanding service, commitment and friendship. Personally, I shall miss him greatly. As a fellow Marine and aviator, he was a mentor, role model and, most importantly, a dear friend. My prayers go out to his lovely and devoted wife, Annie, and the entire Glenn family at this time of their great loss.”
For more information about Glenn’s NASA career, and his agency biography, visit:
It makes us wonder… as kids grow up today… who will THEY look to as their own examples. Will it be some overpaid athlete who beats his girlfiend and ducks out on his baby-momma?
Someone Twitter-famous because he sings a song with a catchy hook, or co-starred in the right sex-tape?
Who will stand up and be the next courageous, daring, devil-may-care examples of taking on impossible odds and winning?
Men like Glenn are hard to find.