Silvio Canto, Jr., in American Thinker the other day: “John Glenn never got to the moon or took a walk in space. Nevertheless, he was the face of the space program for so many of us who grew up watching spaceships launch in classrooms across the country. Aren’t we all grateful of that nice teacher who turned on the TV and let us watch a Gemini or Apollo take off for space?”

“John Glenn died on Thursday. What else can be said about a man like this?  He was unique, a combination of Babe Ruth, the Wright Brothers, Lewis and Clark, and Charles Lindbergh. He flew combat missions in World War II, Korea, and then he circled the earth in 1962.” [end]

As for me and my generation, even in my own teenage years in 1950-60s England, glued to my carry-around transistor radio, I was merely one of millions who were following the back-and-forth conversations between the astronauts way out there in basically “no man’s land” and their Houston-based level-headed flight co-ordinators nonchalantly issuing this order, or that order of mission-based communications. Magic!

Silvio goes on to outline the nascent political ambition of John Glenn following his meeting in 1962 with then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who suggested he might want to run for office backed by the powerful Kennedy clan member (see full Silvio Canto piece in link at bottom). I prefer however, to remember the greatness of John Glenn before he learned how to play political games. Glenn the Marine Aviator, war hero and wingman of Ted Williams, fighter jock and test pilot, the embodiment of the Mercury Seven.

A man for the ages, he was a model for Marine and Navy pilots alike. Unlike many fighter jocks he was not a hell-raising womanizer. He came across as more soft-spoken, with a stainless steel spine, and a love of God and country.
The Sonnet “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee, serves well as a requiem remembrance of John Glenn, put to music by the great John Denver, an avid pilot himself, who died in 1997 in a single-fatality crash of his personal experimental aircraft at the age of 53….

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the sky on laughter silvered wings
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds and done a hundred things
I’ve wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence
Hovering there I’ve chased the shouting winds aloft
And flung my eager craft through footless halls of air

The higher we fly, the farther we go
The closer we are to each other
The darker the night, the brighter the star
In peace go my sisters and brothers

Up, up, the long delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor even eagle flew
And while with silent lifting mind I trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space
Put out my hand and touched the face of God

Ed Harris in the role of John Glenn, in a clip from the 1983 movie “The Right Stuff” …

John Glenn in his own words: “I pray every day and I think everybody should.”

John Glenn with the Friendship Seven in 1962.

On February 20, 1962, NASA launched one of the most important flights in American history. The mission? Send a man to orbit Earth, observe his reactions and return him home safely. The pilot of this historic flight, John Glenn, became a national hero and a symbol of American ambition.

“I don’t think you can be up here and look out the window as I did the first day and look out at the Earth from this vantage point. We’re not so high compared to people who went to the moon and back. But to look out at this kind of creation out here and not believe in God is, to me, impossible. It just strengthens my faith.” [end]

In 1998, he became the oldest person to fly in space, at the age of 77, aboard the space shuttle Discovery. But it was his early flights that really left their mark on history. He will be long and deservedly remembered as the 777 astronaut.

From Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot … The last eight lines of “East Coker” …

Old men ought to be explorers;
Here or there does not matter.
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity;
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation;
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

RIP to a genuine American hero. God speed, John Glenn. 777 astronaut.


See also Silvio Canto, Jr., Could the Democrats nominate a Glenn today?

John Gillespie Magee, Jr., Put out my hand, and touched the face of God

NASA pics/bio of Glenn orbits the Earth

H/t Gerard Vanderleun and American Digest


Soli Deo Gloria!

Soli Deo Gloria!