Godspeed, John Glenn………..
I had the honor of meeting John Glenn and later Neil Armstrong at separate times in Richmond.
These were the words of fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter to John Glenn as his Mercury capsule Friendship 7 and Atlas rocket launched on February 20, 1962. This was this first American to orbit the earth!
Growing up as a baby boomer has many memories some exciting and some scary. The 1960’s included the cold war, the space race, the Kennedy assassination, Civil Right Movement and the Vietnam war. In that era, world powers competed by who could advance in space first. Several weeks prior to Alan Shepard being the first American in sub-orbit, the Russians announced that their astronaut Yuri Gagarin beat us to it. This was Game On for the USA and president John F. Kennedy pledged that the US would reach the moon by the end of the decade; and so we did.
The movie “The Right Stuff”, showcased the selection of the new American heroes and their mental and physical role in training for the epic of space. Col. John Glenn was already a hero fighter pilot who flew 149 missions in WWII and Korea. Col. Glenn represented an excited time of national pride and competition as the all american boy. I vividly remember sitting at my desk at Worley grade school in Canton, Ohio (Glenn was an Ohioan as well) watching the launch live on black and white grainy TV. There was some high drama when ground control found possible failure of the heat shield which would have incinerated the pilot. Fortunately, the mission was successful and John Glenn entered the annuals of history. President Kennedy was right, we landed on the moon in July, 1969.
I have met a lot of luminaries over the years but meeting John Glenn (and Neil Armstrong) was in some respects like meeting Christopher Columbus. I am sure that future generations will look back at our rockets and capsules in space as we do the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria.
It was an exciting decade and I mourn the loss of a true American hero, Col. John Glenn.
Godspeed John Glenn.
Joe Niamtu, III DMD
Cosmetic Facial Surgery