WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — Shortly after the announcement of the death of iconic astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn, his former colleagues in Washington began paying tribute online to the national hero.
Glenn spent 24 years serving in Congress, where he helped craft and pass major legislation like the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978, which is credited with limiting the spread of nuclear weapons globally.
He was a Democrat personally popular with both parties, ran for president and was known for his determined leadership.
Glenn eventually retired in 1999, but not before getting in one last adventure.
His Senate bio notes that “ In 1998, while still a senator, Glenn returned to space at the age of 77 to study the effects of space on the aging.”
The nation’s political leaders began paying tribute to their friend and former colleague within minutes of his passing on Thursday.
President Barack Obama released the following statement:
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.
Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales