Happy Birthday, John Glenn

One day in the autumn of 1970, I was given a ticket to an Ohio Democratic Party fundraising event at Veteran’s Memorial here in Columbus.

I was seated way back, at a table far from the podium. I was close enough that when a well-known statewide official or candidate rose to speak, I could say, “Ooh, that’s really him!” but distant enough that I felt like a spectator rather than a participant.

As I made my way out at the end of the event, I found myself walking right past John Glenn, one of the first American astronauts. I eagerly shook his hand. He said something like, “How are you?” but I couldn’t say anything in reply. I was in awe.

Today is John Glenn’s 90th birthday.

Since my first encounter with him, he became a U.S. Senator from Ohio. After he retired from the Senate, he flew on the Space Shuttle and became the oldest human being to go into space.

Happy Birthday, Senator Glenn. I’m still in awe.