I'm not sure if I specifically remember Glenn's Atlas-Mercury flight in the Friendship 7, the first American flight to orbit the Earth. However, I do remember at least some of the Mercury space flights. I think I also remember the ticker-tape parades that some of these Cold War heroes received upon their return.
That is why when Senator John Glenn took a ride on the Space Shuttle in 1998, I wanted to show my appreciation. I drove an hour or so north from my home in West Virginia to the small Ohio town of New Concord. In 1962, he had received a huge welcome home parade in his little hometown, and they were going to try and recreate it in December 1998. I don't have any photographs from that day, but I did find this neat NASA photograph of Glenn with his beloved wife Annie in the 1962 parade in New Concord.
I also remember running into Niki Wenger, the West Virginia Teacher in Space finalist who had worked at NASA when I was there in the 1980s. We had an enjoyable conversation as we awaited Senator Glenn's remarks in the gymnasium of his alma mater, Muskingum University.
All in all, it was a very good day, and it is enjoyable to remember it on this otherwise sad occasion. I'm glad I made the effort to pay tribute to this admirable American. It is disappointing to know that all the original Mercury astronauts are now gone. I guess it is a sign that I'm getting old. At least I'm doing what I can to pass along an interest in space to the students here in my village.
As backup astronaut Scott Carpenter famously wished him during the launch, “Godspeed, John Glenn!” Thanks for the memories!