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‘A true American hero:’ Leaders share memories of John Glenn following his passing

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COLUMBUS, Ohio– People across the country are reacting to the death of former U.S. Senator and astronaut John Glenn.

The Ohio native passed away at a Columbus hospital on Thursday at the age of 95.

President Barack Obama:

“When John Glenn blasted off from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas rocket in 1962, he lifted the hopes of a nation.  And when his Friendship 7 spacecraft splashed down a few hours later, the first American to orbit the Earth reminded us that with courage and a spirit of discovery there’s no limit to the heights we can reach together.  With John’s passing, our nation has lost an icon and Michelle and I have lost a friend.

“John spent his life breaking barriers, from defending our freedom as a decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, to setting a transcontinental speed record, to becoming, at age 77, the oldest human to touch the stars.  John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond–not just to visit, but to stay.

“Today, the people of Ohio remember a devoted public servant who represented his fellow Buckeyes in the U.S. Senate for a quarter century and who fought to keep America a leader in science and technology.  Our thoughts are with his beloved wife Annie, their children John and Carolyn and the entire Glenn family.  The last of America’s first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on Earth compels us to keep reaching for the heavens.  On behalf of a grateful nation, Godspeed, John Glenn.”

President-elect Donald Trump:

“Today we lost a great pioneer of air and space in John Glenn. He was a hero and inspired generations of future explorers. He will be missed.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich:

“John Glenn is, and always will be, Ohio’s ultimate hometown hero, and his passing today is an occasion for all of us to grieve.  As we bow our heads and share our grief with his beloved wife, Annie, we must also turn to the skies, to salute his remarkable journeys and his long years of service to our state and nation.  Though he soared deep into space and to the heights of Capitol Hill, his heart never strayed from his steadfast Ohio roots.  Godspeed, John Glenn!”

Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake:

“The Ohio State University community deeply mourns the loss of John Glenn, Ohio’s consummate public servant and a true American hero. He leaves an undiminished legacy as one of the great people of our time.

“Senator Glenn was a decorated U.S. Marine aviator, legendary NASA astronaut, tireless public servant, and an unparalleled supporter of The John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State, where he served actively as an adjunct professor until just recently. He was an authentic hero whose courage, integrity, sacrifice and achievements inspired people, young and old, around the world.

“Most importantly, he was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He and his wife, Annie, have been the definition of model citizens. Meeting them was among life’s greatest privileges. Spending time with them was a blessing.

“On behalf of the Ohio State community, I extend my heartfelt condolences to Annie and the entire Glenn family.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio):

“It has been one of the great blessings of my life to get to know John Glenn, and for Connie and me to count on him and Annie as mentors and friends. We loved him, we will miss him and we will continue to draw strength and wisdom from the lessons he shared with us over the years.

“What made John Glenn a great Senator was the same quality that made him a great astronaut and an iconic American hero: he saw enormous untapped potential in the nation he loved and he had faith that America could overcome any challenge.

“John’s kindness, his intelligence, his courage and his commitment to service set an example that our country needs today more than ever. John’s legacy will live on in the pages of the history books and the hearts of everyone who knew and loved him.”

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio):

“John Glenn was an American hero. He flew 149 combat missions in two wars; he was the first American to orbit the Earth, and the longest-serving United States Senator in Ohio history. I’m grateful to have known him, to have partnered with him on projects and legislation in Congress, and to have worked with him and served on his advisory board at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at the Ohio State University. Most recently, I called him to ask him to join me at my swearing in in January for the seat he once held. When I saw Senator Glenn in October at the Glenn School board meeting he was in good humor, gracious, and determined to contribute to Ohio, as always. John and Annie’s marriage and their seven decades of partnership have been a model for Jane and me, and we send our condolences to our friend Annie and all the Glenn family at this difficult time.”

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson:

“John Glenn was a true American hero. He gave America confidence in itself at a very crucial time in our history. His passing will leave a void and he will be missed.”

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan:

“He will be dearly missed for his courage, authenticity, and quiet strength. John Glenn – Ohio’s native son and one of the true, great Americans – will remain forever in our hearts. We honor his legacy and extend our deepest condolences to his family during this difficult time. May the memory of his life be a comfort and a blessing to all who knew him.”

Space Foundation Director of Marketing and Communications Kevin Cook:

“U.S. success in space was built on the courage and determination of men like John Glenn, who dedicated his life to serving his country and proving what humans could accomplish in space.”

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine:

“Fran and I are deeply saddened by the death of Senator John Glenn.

“There is no doubt – John Glenn always had the ‘Right Stuff.’ He was an American hero.

“I remember vividly, as a freshman at Yellow Springs High School, sitting in science class and, like so many Americans, listening to the radio and watching on TV later in the day, as John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. That day, he captured the hearts of Americans and guaranteed his place in the history of this country and in the history of the world.

“As a United States Senator, John Glenn was a workhorse. He wasn’t flashy or looking for TV cameras, but instead, Senator Glenn was interested in the real work of the United States Senate.

“My first campaign for the U.S. Senate was against Senator Glenn. In spite of a tough campaign that I lost, he was gracious when I was sworn in to Ohio’s other Senate seat two years later. I was proud to serve with him in the Senate for four years, focusing on what we could do together to help Ohio families.

“Fran and I and our children were thrilled to be present for Senator Glenn’s second launch into space in 1998. I took a picture of that launch, which he graciously signed for me. That picture hangs in our home in Cedarville.

“No matter where he travelled in the United States, across the world, or even into outer space, Senator Glenn was always proud to call New Concord, Ohio home. He met the love of his life, Annie, there in New Concord when they were toddlers. Their 73-year marriage is an inspiration to us all.

“Fran and I extend our deepest and sincerest condolences to Mrs. Glenn and to their children and grandchildren.”