John Glenn, astronaut and senator, to lie in state in Ohio

Democratic President Barack Obama on Friday ordered flags at federal buildings and on ships around the world flown at half-staff until sunset on the day of Glenn's internment

By: AP | Columbus | Published:December 10, 2016 11:03 am
STS-95 crewmember, astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn poses for his official NASA photo taken April 14, 1998. Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth and returned to space in 1998 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. Courtesy NASA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY STS-95 crewmember, astronaut and US Senator John Glenn poses for his official NASA photo taken April 14, 1998. Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth and returned to space in 1998 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. (Courtesy NASA/Handout via REUTERS)

John Glenn will lie in state in Ohio’s capitol building before a celebration of his life of military and government service and two history-making voyages into space.

The public viewing at the Ohio Statehouse and a memorial service at Ohio State University’s Mershon Auditorium are planned for late next week. The dates and times were being worked out Friday, said Hank Wilson, of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. Statehouse officials meet Monday to authorize the public viewing.

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Glenn, who died Thursday at age 95, was the first American to orbit the Earth, in 1962, and was the oldest man in space, at age 77 in 1998. A US Marine and combat pilot, he also served as a Democratic US senator, representing Ohio, for more than two decades.

Democratic President Barack Obama on Friday ordered flags at federal buildings and on ships around the world flown at half-staff until sunset on the day of Glenn’s internment. Glenn is to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, DC.

Tributes from the nation’s leaders and others continued Friday.

“Throughout his life, Senator John Glenn embodied the right stuff,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a statement. “Our military in particular benefited from his courage and dedication. … But just as important as what John Glenn accomplished is how he accomplished it: with a combination of fierce determination and profound humility, and always with integrity.”

Glenn was a fighter pilot in World War II and Korea and served on the Senate Armed Services Committee, among other Washington service.

In his eastern Ohio hometown of New Concord, the John and Annie Glenn Museum, usually available this time of year only for special tours and events, opened Friday with free admission.

Char Lyn Grujoski, of Connersville, Indiana, stopped in after spotting a roadside sign for the museum while driving home from Pittsburgh and listening to a radio report on Glenn. The museum is in the astronaut’s converted boyhood home. Grujoski and her daughter left impressed.

“He was a true American hero, someone who loved his country and served it,” she said.

Glenn was known for his humility, said Hal Burlingame, who grew up in New Concord and was friends with Glenn for half a century.

“John Glenn that you see is the real John Glenn,” Burlingame said. “He would be the same John Glenn if he happened to be sitting here today talking with us. He never took himself too seriously.”

Glenn was born July 18, 1921, in Cambridge and grew up in nearby New Concord. He wed his childhood sweetheart, Anna Margaret Castor, in 1943. The couple spent their later years between Washington and Columbus.

He and his wife served as trustees at their alma mater, Muskingum College, and he promoted his namesake School of Public Affairs at Ohio State, which houses his private papers and photographs.

His long political career, which included a failed 1984 run for the Democratic presidential nomination, enabled him to return to space in the shuttle Discovery in 1998, 36 years after going into orbit in Friendship 7 as part of Mercury, the first US manned spaceflight program. He turned his Discovery mission into an educational moment about aging.

Schools, a space center and the Columbus airport are named after him.

“For generations, Americans cheered John Glenn as he soared into the heavens,” former House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican and fellow Ohioan, said in a statement. “Now he has taken his place there for eternity, a well-earned reward for an American life well and heroically lived.”

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