February marks the 45th anniversary of John Glenn’s space orbit. He was one of America’s original seven Mercury astronauts and orbited the Earth three times on February 10, 1962 in the capsule Friendship 7. While Alan Shepard had been the first American astronaut in space in 1960, Glenn was the first American to circle the globe.
Since Glenn and his family were long-time residents of Arlington, that also makes him the first Arlingtonian to accomplish such a feat!
Drawn to Northern Virginia in 1958 by the promise of good schools, the Glenn family soon took up residence on North Harrison Street where their children simply had to cross the street to get to class at Williamsburg Junior High School.
When Glenn was sent to NASA’s astronaut training at Langley Research Center in Hampton, 180 miles from Arlington, his wife Annie and the children remained in their new house and John commuted on weekends.
After John Glenn’s successful orbit, he received a national hero’s welcome, but his home remained in Arlington. “Even Lyndon Johnson and his wife Lady Bird were welcomed at the house for Glenn’s 41st birthday party, dining on Annie’s ham loaf and staying well into the night.”
With thanks to Peter Golkin for his feature on John Glenn from which much of this is excerpted. His entire essay can be found in the Virginia Room.
What About You?
Do you remember Glenn’s historic flight? How about the Glenn family as your neighbor? Let us know what you remember!