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No, I’m not talking about aliens… On December 8th of 2016, one of the most well-known American heroes died. John Glenn’s military, space, and political experience has been matched by few.

John Glenn was born on July 18th, 1921, and he joined the military in 1942. Throughout his service in World War II and the Korean War, Glenn won six Distinguished Flying Crosses and the Air Medal with eighteen award stars. Glenn was one of the “Mercury Seven,” military test pilots chosen by NASA to be the first American astronauts in 1959.

Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission in 1962 and became the first American to orbit the Earth and the fifth person to go to space. Glenn was also a friend of Robert Kennedy and was with him when Kennedy was assassinated in 1968. In 1974, Glenn became a U.S. Senator from Ohio as a Democrat, and served in this position until 1999. At this point, Glenn was a very popular and famous person.

Glenn was chosen to give the keynote address at the 1976 Democratic National Convention, and ran for president himself in 1984. In the end, Glenn was defeated by Walter Mondale, the former Vice-President under Jimmy Carter. South Carolina Senator Ernest Hollings, also running for president that year, referred to Mondale as a “lapdog” and John Glenn as “Sky King” who was “confused in his capsule.” Glenn and Hollings lost the primaries.

In 1998, Glenn again went into space, becoming the oldest person to do so. Glenn described himself as a Christian:”To look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible,” said Glenn, after his second and final space voyage. He was also given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.Glenn was the last surviving member of the “Mercury Seven.” and the oldest living senator at the time of his death (succeeded in this position by Hollings).

John Glenn will be remembered for his huge services to this country, and for the sacrifices he made. His life story by itself is proof that one man can indeed make a difference.