(COLUMBUS, Ohio) - The Ohio State University will lead the celebration of John Glenn’s legacy on the 50th anniversary of his historic flight aboard Friendship 7 on February 20 by engaging students, NASA officials and the public policy community. When Glenn piloted Friendship 7 into space in 1962 and became the first American to orbit the earth, he became an instant hero as the flight captured the nation and the world’s imagination.
Through this tribute, the university will celebrate the historic moment in time and honor one of America’s great heroes – John Glenn – and the culture of leadership, citizenship and public service that he has instilled at Ohio State and the John Glenn School of Public Affairs.
The major university event will be a celebration dinner featuring a keynote speech by NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, commander of the space shuttle Endeavour's final mission. Proceeds from the dinner will primarily benefit the John Glenn School of Public Affairs and the College of Engineering, and the university is hoping to raise more than $2 million toward student scholarships in those areas.
From that first flight, NASA put astronauts on the moon, built spacecraft that could take off and land, built a working laboratory into space and more. The flight spotlighted the partnership between public policy and scientific and technological research that thrust the United States into a position of technological superiority. It also launched new industries that continue to provide the nation and world with life-enhancing innovations.
After the flight, Glenn went on to serve 24 years as a U.S. Senator representing Ohio. As he neared the end of his Senate career, Glenn donated his papers, including memorabilia from the space flight, to the university, which are now available through the John Glenn Collection. Weeks before his historic return to space in 1998, he returned to Ohio State and announced the creation of the John Glenn Institute, which is now the John Glenn School of Public Affairs.
Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee says, “John Glenn is, quite simply, an extraordinary American patriot. He is a man of boundless courage, limitless optimism and unswerving honor. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to celebrate his tremendous achievements and his important leadership at Ohio State. He is one of this University’s – and this nation’s – greatest treasures.”