Inside Media: "Moments That Changed Us - John Glenn"

May 30, 2009

By Lesette R. Heath, special programs coordinator

In 1962, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. It was a definitive moment for the United States that set the stage for a number of victories in space.

"After that moment, there was no question about who led the space race all the way up to landing a person on the moon," said veteran journalist Nick Clooney, who hosted a special screening of the documentary "Moments That Changed Us — John Glenn."

Before Glenn’s successful flight, the United States had lagged behind the space program of its rival, the Soviet Union.

According to Clooney, Glenn had the nation’s hopes riding on him, but the former Marine, who had been flying since boyhood, never flinched.

"He is a remarkably brave man," said Clooney, and according to NASA reports, the only man whose pulse did not go up during blastoff.

That historic flight aboard "Friendship 7" transformed Glenn into an American hero. The public and press fell in love with him. Clooney said Glenn’s triumph was the "biggest thing" since aviator Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic.

In 1974, Glenn became a U.S. senator and served four terms. Then at 77, he became the oldest man to go into space aboard the Shuttle Discovery.

Today, the octogenarian continues to fly and shies away from being called a hero or legend.

Recently, when Clooney spoke to Glenn about the screening, Glenn said "don’t do the hero stuff. Just give them the facts."

"Moments That Changed Us — John Glenn" originally aired on the American Life Television network.

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