‘On behalf of a grateful nation, Godspeed, John Glenn’: Obama pays tribute to John Glenn

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John Glenn receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony at the White House on May 29, 2012.
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NASA

John Glenn, a former US senator from Ohio and the first American to orbit the Earth, passed away at the age of 95 on Thursday after being hospitalized for more than a week.

“With John’s passing, our nation has lost an icon and Michelle and I have lost a friend,” Obama said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with his beloved wife Annie, their children John and Carolyn and the entire Glenn family.”

The statement discussed Glenn’s accomplishments, from his service as a decorated Marine pilot in World War II and the Korean War, to becoming – at age 77 – the oldest human being to “touch the stars” while serving as a payload specialist on a space shuttle flight.

Obama said that Glenn had the “right stuff” to inspire “generations” of scientists, engineers, and astronauts who will take us “to Mars and beyond.”

“Today, the people of Ohio remember a devoted public servant who represented his fellow Buckeyes in the U.S. Senate for a quarter century and who fought to keep America a leader in science and technology,” Obama said.

“The last of America’s first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on Earth compels us to keep reaching for the heavens.”

“On behalf of a grateful nation, Godspeed, John Glenn.”

Obama granted Glenn the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

Here’s the full statement:

“When John Glenn blasted off from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas rocket in 1962, he lifted the hopes of a nation. And when his Friendship 7 spacecraft splashed down a few hours later, the first American to orbit the Earth reminded us that with courage and a spirit of discovery there’s no limit to the heights we can reach together. With John’s passing, our nation has lost an icon and Michelle and I have lost a friend. John spent his life breaking barriers, from defending our freedom as a decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, to setting a transcontinental speed record, to becoming, at age 77, the oldest human to touch the stars. John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond–not just to visit, but to stay. Today, the people of Ohio remember a devoted public servant who represented his fellow Buckeyes in the U.S. Senate for a quarter century and who fought to keep America a leader in science and technology. Our thoughts are with his beloved wife Annie, their children John and Carolyn and the entire Glenn family. The last of America’s first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on Earth compels us to keep reaching for the heavens. On behalf of a grateful nation, Godspeed, John Glenn.”