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I remember sitting in my first-grade class when John Glenn’s Mercury rocket, Friendship 7, took off. The audio of the launch was being piped into the classroom (no TV’s in the classroom back then!) and as a young astronaut wanna-be, I was eagerly awaiting the final countdown. When the announcer cried “Lift-Off!”, everyone jumped from their seats and ran to the window to catch a glimpse of the quickly rising rocket. HA! Such silly children I thought, as I stayed firmly planted in my seat, eyes fixed on the PA speaker. The fact that we were all attending Edmonson Elementary School, located in Madison Heights, a suburb of Detroit, MI, far, far from the Cape Canaveral launch pad, I KNEW that there was absolutely NO WAY you could see the rocket from our location, no matter how much one could stretch up on their little tiny tippy toes and peer out the window. I smugly sat there for 20 seconds or so, then ran to the window too… maybe they knew something I didn’t. Don’t wanna miss it! But of course they didn’t. Nothing but blue skies. I would have to wait for that night’s evening news (with Walter Cronkite!) to see the launch.
Back then we were all fascinated with the US space program. Things stopped all across the country to watch the launches & landings.
It can be said that a lot of it was government propaganda and that the Mercury Seven were pumped up to be something they weren’t.
But in the end, whatever image was fabricated, the reality was that these guys were sitting on a huge bomb! And they rode that bomb into space!
And they made this little first grader dream of a brighter future.
We could all use some more of that right about now.
God speed, John Glenn!
Thanks for your courage!