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Me and my entire second grade class saw John Glenn blastoff - becoming the first American to orbit the Earth on Feb 20, 1962. That was a big deal. We lived in Maitland Florida which was 35 miles due west of Cape Canveral. My school, Dommerich Elementary, was 100% into the space program. When a launch came along, the entire school marched in line out to the playground and watched history being made. I was in awe of the whole thing and witnessed every Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launch up to and including Apollo 8 - then we moved away - to New Jersey.
In the beginning, we only saw a vapor trail from the Mercury and Gemini launch vehicles. But with the Apollo program, we could actually make out the vague outline of the Saturn V booster - this from 35 miles away! Never boring or routine, each mission was more daring and ambitious. Our country was on a mission and there was no time to waste.The progress from mission to mission was extraordinary.
John Glenn was my favorite of the original seven astronauts - he looked like an astronaut and acted like a astronaut. He was a good man - a courageous man and an authentic American hero. I'm sad he's gone, but I'll always remember that day, squinting into the morning sun as the "Friendship 7's" vapor trail broke the horizon. History was being made - and I was there.
Godspeed John Glenn.