I was a witness to John Glenn’s last space flight, and it was one of the most memorable events of my life.
As a then-visa holder in the United States, I’ve always told Americans what a blessing it was to be there in 1998.
Since then, I’ve advised Americans: Feel that chest-rumbling energy in the earth and air just once at Cape Canaveral, and you will be so proud to be an American, you will forget — if only for a moment — all division, all disputes, all that separates you from fellow citizens.
The moment made me so proud of John Glenn and NASA that my American friends joked that I was crying.
OK, tears were shed. It was that moving. Ask anyone who was there.
Glenn was 77 then, the oldest person to go into space. NASA said it was bringing him out of “retirement” to test the effects of space flight on elders.
Glenn proved age is only a construct.
He was the first man to orbit the earth, and the third American to go into space (after President John F. Kennedy declared that the United States would beat the then-Soviet Union in space.)
Glenn might have been president, or vice-president, but couldn’t persuade voters of that. Instead, he was a U.S. senator for 25 years.
I was always impressed by his long marriage to Annie, his high school sweetheart. They are so devoted to each other, and have withstood much in the name of public service.
Glenn’s military medals
Tributes and medals and honors of all kinds have been awarded to John Glenn for all he has done for his country. He was awarded six Distinguished Flying Crosses for his service in the Pacific in World War II and in the Korean War.
I’m proud to have met John Glenn, an American icon. A pilot, an astronaut, a gentleman, and a national hero who helped inspire the Hollywood film, The Right Stuff.
At 91, John Glenn was among 13 recipients yesterday of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Hail a hero, America.