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-50 Years Ago Today: “Gods Speed, John Glenn”

by Dr. D ~ February 20th, 2012

English: Astronaut John Glenn photographed in ...

                                            (Image via Wikipedia)

50 years ago today (February 20, 1962), as the US Friendship 7 spacecraft rose from the launch pad and headed for space, Scott Carpenter at mission control reflected what every American was thinking at the time when he proclaimed:

"God speed, John Glenn!"

John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth completing the task three times before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean a few hours later.

If you did not live though those times like I did, it is hard to imagine how immense the story really was. 

The Russians had beaten us into space and already had sent Yuri Gagarin around the earth in April 1961. Later in a speech Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev would proclaim about the event:

"Gagarin flew into space, but didn’t see any god there."

The same leader had threatened to bury us and nuclear war was a serious threat in those days especially with the Cuban missile crisis that would come a few months later the same year in October.

I was in high school at the time and I can remember watching the lift-off and then in an afternoon class we listened to the reentry and splashdown on radio. I can remember during the tense moments when there was a communications blackout with the craft on reentry, the radio announcer suggested that it would be a good time to pray –so did our teacher, and so we did.

My how things have changed in America in the last 50 years. Can you imagine a “God speed” coming from NASA on a national news channel, or a “time to pray” from radio announcer or a teacher in a classroom today? Not too likely, but perfectly natural and authentic in the America I grew up in.            *Top

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