Bi­den, mourn­ers pay trib­ute to John Glenn, Amer­i­can hero

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

COLUM­BUS: The na­tion’s vice pres­i­dent and a re­tired Ma­rine Corps gen­eral were among the dig­ni­taries, fam­ily mem­bers and other mourn­ers who choked up Satur­day dur­ing a me­mo­rial trib­ute to the late space hero John Glenn. Roughly 2,500 peo­ple gath­ered at Mer­shon Au­di­to­rium on the Ohio State Univer­sity cam­pus for “a cel­e­bra­tion of life” for the for­mer fighter pi­lot, his­tory -mak­ing as­tro­naut and long­time Demo­cratic US se­na­tor from small­town Ohio. He was re­mem­bered not only for bravery, but for his thought­ful con­sid­er­a­tion for oth­ers, his in­tegrity and his pa­tri­otic op­ti­mism. “I think John de­fined what it meant to be an Amer­i­can, what we were about, just by how we acted,” said Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, a for­mer col­league of Glenn’s in the US Se­nate. “It was al­ways about the prom­ise. We were a coun­try of pos­si­bil­ity, op­por­tu­nity, al­ways a be­lief in to­mor­row.”

Re­tired USMC Gen. John Dai­ley said Glenn was “never in it for him­self,” but al­ways acted for the na­tion’s greater good. Like many oth­ers, he re­called Glenn’s hu­mil­ity and ba­sic kindness. “We had John for 95 great years and it still wasn’t enough,” Dai­ley said.

A man of firsts

Glenn died Dec. 8 at age 95. He was the first Amer­i­can to or­bit the Earth in 1962, and then in 1998 be­came the old­est per­son in space at 77. Thou­sands of peo­ple, in­clud­ing Demo­cratic US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry, vis­ited the Ohio State­house on Fri­day as Glenn lay in honor. A solemn funeral pro­ces­sion through the cen­ter of the cap­i­tal city car­ried his cas­ket past more mourn­ers will­ing to with­stand cold and ice.

Ethel Kennedy, widow of close Glenn ally Robert F. Kennedy, and their son Robert F. Kennedy Jr., were among the mourn­ers present, along with Ohio po­lit­i­cal lead­ers in­clud­ing Gov. John Ka­sich and for­mer Govs. Ted Strick­land and Richard Ce­leste.

The ser­vice was pre­ceded by record­ings of hymns, arias and pop­u­lar songs. Some - in­clud­ing Nat King Cole’s “Smile” and Su­san Boyle’s ver­sion of “Im­pos­si­ble Dream” nod­ded to Glenn’s trade­mark op­ti­mism. Oth­ers, in­clud­ing “You Are My Sun­shine,” “Moon River” and Shirley Jones singing “Good­night, My Some­one” - re­called Glenn’s long love af­fair with wife, An­nie, who sur­vives him.

Their mar­riage was cited fre­quently as a source of Glenn’s strength and an in­spi­ra­tion to those who have known and watched the cou­ple for 73 years. US Sen. Sher­rod Brown, a fel­low Demo­crat who first met Glenn when he was a teenage Ea­gle Scout, called Glenn “an FDR Demo­crat” who be­lieved in the power of gov­ern­ment and the im­por­tance of pub­lic ser­vice - through his mil­i­tary and space ca­reer and his ten­ure in the Se­nate.

“He was a work horse, never a show horse,” Brown said. “He la­bored over the de­tails of non-pro­lif­er­a­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal cleanup of nu­clear dis­posal sites, grunt work to some, but John was con­tent to spend his time not on col­lect­ing in­stant head­lines but achiev­ing last­ing re­sults that would leave the world bet­ter than he had found it.”

Brown’s wife, jour­nal­ist Con­nie Schultz, re­called his ten­der­ness when their grand­son was cu­ri­ous about how astro­nauts uri­nate in space. She saw it as ex­am­ple for the na­tion. “If Amer­i­can icon John Glenn could take the time to treat a child with such re­spect, surely we can find the time to lis­ten to one an­other,” she said.

NASA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Charles Bolden Jr. said the US space pro­gram re­mains in­debted to Glenn. “It was courage, grace and hu­mil­ity John dis­played through­out his life that lifted him above the stars,” Bolden said. “As the cur­rent head of NASA, I can say un­equiv­o­cally that we are stand­ing on John Glenn’s shoul­ders as we pur­sue a hu­man jour­ney to Mars, a jour­ney that would not be pos­si­ble with­out his bravery and self­less ded­i­ca­tion.”

Glenn’s son, David, said his fa­ther let him find him­self and make his own mis­takes - even when he came home with long hair and wear­ing bell bot­tom pants. “He might have blinked twice, or his face twitched or some­thing like that. But that was it,” he said. Daugh­ter Lyn said she wanted an “atta girl” for some good grades she brought home at age 8, to which Glenn replied, “Yes, but what have you done for your coun­try to­day?” She said Glenn re­fused a deal worth as much as $5 mil­lion to have his photo placed on a Wheaties box be­cause he saw it as mak­ing money from gov­ern­ment ser­vice.

—AP

COLOMBUS: The cas­ket of John Glenn is car­ried out of the Ohio State­house by Marines dur­ing his funeral pro­ces­sion on Satur­day.

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