John Glenn is an astronaut, US Senator, Marine, Businessman, and American legend.
In 1962, John Glenn climbed into NASA's tiny Mercury capsule, was launched into the still-mysterious and consuming darkness of space, and circumnavigated the Earth three times. It was an epic journey: systems malfunctioned and he had to manually pilot his space capsule at 17,500 miles per hour as he rocked wildly and watched fiery bits of his capsule fly past him into space. Retrospectively, we can see that defining moment marked a drastic shift in the power-play of the Cold War and brought relief and hope to anxious Americans. John Glenn had renewed our national spirit.
President Kennedy would not allow NASA to send John Glenn back into space, deeming him too valuable of a national hero. Mr. Glenn then left NASA and entered the private sector as an international executive in the cola industry, where he found his attention to detail and gutsy instincts served him well.
Mr. Glenn, however, was feeling pulled back into the direct service of his country, and where he had previously represented his country in space, he then represented his country on the floor of the United States Senate with his election in 1974. For twenty-four years, Mr. Glenn served as a Democratic Senator from his home state of Ohio, focusing on issues such as arms control, nuclear proliferation, government efficiency, and campaign finance reform.
But John Glenn yearned to soar in space again. On October 29, 1998, John Glenn returned to space with a crew of astronauts who were not yet born when he made his first ascent into space. After training diligently and easily passing the battery of physical tests before flight, Mr. Glenn, at 77 years old, became the oldest man to ever fly in space, and while there conducted medical tests to study the effects of zero-gravity on the aging body.
Currently, Mr. Glenn heads the John Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy at Ohio State University. He is chairman of the National Commission on Service Learning, which focuses on integrating service to others with classroom instruction in grades K-12. His autobiography John Glenn: A Memoir (1999) recalls his remarkable life and journey through the Canyon of Heroes.
John Glenn was the 2000 recipient of this nation's prestigious American Institute of Public Service's Jefferson Award. The award was presented to Senator Glenn for his national service as an elected official. The award was established by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1972 in recognition of people who have forged new paths in service to the nation.
In his speeches, Senator Glenn brings to bear his sense of humor and humility, inspiring audiences to reach inside themselves for the common good and betterment of mankind. With stories of his own dramatic debut on the world stage, through his illustrious senate career and culminating with his historic space flight at age 77, he draws upon his extraordinary life experiences to illuminate audiences with the values, leadership and bravery our age craves.