Thou­sands gather to mourn loss of Glenn

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Julie Carr Smyth

colum­bus, ohio» 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 U.S. sen­a­tor from small-town 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 U.S. 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.

Glenn died Dec. 8 at age 95. He was the first Amer­i­can to or­bit Earth in 1962, and then in 1998 be­came the old­est per­son in space at 77.

Thou­sands of peo­ple, in­clud­ing Demo­cratic U.S. 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.

U.S. 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 work­horse, never a showhorse,” Brown said. “He la­bored over the de­tails of non­pro­lif­er­a­tion 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 U.S. 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.”

Daugh­ter Lyn 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. She ended a touch­ing rec­ol­lec­tion with a sim­ple farewell, “God­speed, Dad.”

The cas­ket of John Glenn is car­ried out of the Ohio State­house by Marines dur­ing his fu­neral pro­ces­sion Satur­day in Colum­bus. The famed as­tro­naut died Dec. 8 at age 95. John Minchillo, The As­so­ci­ated Press

From left, An­nie Glenn, widow of for­mer sen­a­tor and as­tro­naut John Glenn, Glenn’s daugh­ter Lyn, and Pock Otis hold hands dur­ing Satur­day’s ser­vices for Glenn. Bill In­galls, NASA

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