John Glenn

WONDER what it’s like to be one of the nation’s greatest treasures?

A man who grew up in nearby Muskingum County knows, but he certainly didn’t know how far he would advance.

It would have been impossible for John Glenn to be aware of his future achievements, because he was born in 1921, and the space program was years in the future. (Even the fictional character Buck Rogers and his adventures into space didn’t appear in a comic strip until 1929.)

THE 50th anniversary of Glenn’s orbit of the Earth, the first for an American, will be celebrated Monday at The Ohio State University and March 2 by NASA at Cleveland State University. In addition, Glenn will be the keynote speaker for Ohio’s Statehood Day luncheon March 1.

It was a warm Feb. 20 in 1962 when millions of people watched television regarding Glenn’s historic flight.

Glenn, however, didn’t stop there. At the age of 77 in 1998, he became the oldest person of any nation to travel in space.

Not only did Glenn set records in space, he served in the U.S. Senate for 24 years, longer than any other Ohioan.

Near the end of his Senate career, he donated his papers including space flight memorabilia to OSU, and these are available through the John Glenn Collection. Then in the late 1990s, he announced the creation of the John Glenn Institute, now the John Glenn School of Public Affairs.

OSU President E. Gordon Gee recently commented on Glenn’s “boundless courage, limitless optimism and unswerving honor” and noted the former astronaut’s achievements and leadership before describing him as one of “this university’s – and this nation’s greatest treasures.”

UNIVERSITIES and NASA aren’t the only ones giving recognition to Glenn and his wife, Annie. The John and Annie Glenn Historic Site is housed in his boyhood home in New Concord to honor the Glenns and relate “the story of 20th-century America through the prism of their lives,” according to the historic location’s website.

Glenn is more than a flier, more than an astronaut, more than a senator and more than a national figure.

He’s an outstanding example for the youth of America.