It’s been an unsettling year for the United States, one marked by discomforting political movements and a Twitter-crazed man-child as President-Elect. In a time where the idea of fleeing to Mars with Elon Musk doesn’t sound so bad, America must now face the loss of the most prominent heroes of the great space age. On Thursday night, in Columbus, Ohio, the country lost the heroic space icon and national political figure John Glenn at the age of 95.
On February 20, 1962, a pivotal day in history, Glenn had solidified his place as an American hero by becoming the first person from the nation to successfully orbit around Earth. Before the amazing feat that helped launch the country into the space age, Glenn served in both the Marine Corps and Navy, fighting valiantly in both World War II and the Korean War. His ascension into orbit was especially important at time, as the U.S was in the midst of an increasingly tense Cold War against Russia, who had a man successfully orbit the Earth just a year before.
Upon returning from his three full orbits around the planet, Glenn was welcomed home as a hero. The Ohio-born astronaut was invited to meet President John F. Kennedy at the White House and was celebrated across the country. In fact, he was deemed by Kennedy as too valuable to risk on another space mission, and thus Glenn decided leave the astronaut life behind to enter the political sphere.
During his political career, Glenn served four full terms as a Democratic senator from Ohio, while also running unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984. Then, in 1998, Glenn made a shocking return into orbit at the age of 77, making him the oldest person to go into outer space.
In an age that saw America fully transform into a global power, Glenn was the perfect candidate to represent what the country was all about. The Ohio native was born and bred in a time of great patriotism and war, and from that era Glenn arose as a national symbol and hero during America’s Post-WWII golden age.
The historic astronaut and beloved figure is survived by his wife, two children, and two grandsons.