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John Glenn deserves the honor
December 27, 2011 - Jim Smith
I make no bones about, I have a case of hero worship for former U.S. Senator, retire Marine fighter pilot, test pilot and two-time astronaut John Glenn.
I first met Glenn when he made an ill-fated run for the U.S. Senate and had to withdrawal due to a home injury. I was a reporter at the old Columbus Citizen-Journal and had the opportunity to meet and talk with the man who was and is a living legend.
As the years went on, he was elected to the Senate, I traveled from newspaper to newspaper as editor and he lived in the Grandview Heights high-rise condo building where my mother still lives, I had the pleasure of bumping into Glenn from time to time.
He once spoke at the Ohio Associated Press get-together at the Professional Football Hall of Fame and my then teenaged daughter wanted her hero's autograph, but leaning toward becoming a military officer herself, she wanted it signed as Lt. Col. John Glenn, USMC, retired.
The former Marine chuckled when I asked him for the favor and remembered it later when he visited my office in Steubenville, Ohio, and wanted to meet the girl for whom he had signed the autograph in such an unusual manner.
Glenn had every intention of nominating that girl to the Air Force Academy, until she spent a year as a foreign exchange student in Denmark and had an U.S. Air Force colonel talk her out of going to the academy.
She wanted to get into the diplomatic corps, she thought, and that led to a telephone call to Glenn to get his advice on where she should go to college. There was no hesitation in his recommendation of The American University in northwestern Washington, D.C., which is where my daughter fell in love with the campus on our first visit and put her on the right road to her career in government service.
But that wasn't the only time I called the senator asking for help. When my cousin was in Nepal as a Peace Corps volunteer and an earthquake struck that country, destroying communication between him and his hardcore Republican parents in Indiana, they called me for help and I called the senator.
The Peace Corps was no help, neither was the State Department, but the senator obtained reassurance of my cousin's safety for my aunt and uncle within a couple of hours. When asked how he managed it, his answer simple was Marine Corps rings click together. My aunt and uncle still sing the praises of Democrat John Glenn.
With all that said, I could not have been happier when the Ohio Senate passed a bill declaring every Feb. 20, beginning in 2012, as " John Glenn Friendship 7 Day." The date marks the 50th anniversary of the senator's flight orbiting the Earth in his Friendship 7 capsule.
If ever there was an Ohioan who deserved the honor of have a day named for him, it is John Glenn.
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