The Best One of the Best Ones

[Author’s Note:  John Glenn, the first American in space and lifelong civil servant, died today. In my life there are three important things, three things that above all define who I am as a human being: baseball, Mystery Science Theater 3ooo, and the space program. John Glenn was a personal hero. This is a remembrance. 2016 can stop now.]


It’s a mighty long time to be alive, and quite
a long time to be a hero, too.
For you graced the Earth
and the space beyond it with your life
and now, like the stars you travelled to so long ago,
You are pure light.

A bow tie in  a Windsor knot world, you were
and ever to the beat of your own drum
and ever to the cadence of the Corps drum
Your own man, but a man for us all
Your own man, but a hero

Although you would never call yourself that
You, who sat atop an explosive candle to prove
to journey, to explore
You who live and breathed and accomplished such bravery
To you, this was not bravery
Bravery was the example of your Annie
Your love, your life
The bravest person you had ever known, you said,
Was your own beloved wife.

And today it is Annie that I think of;
She who suffered cruel indignities as a child
but always had the heart of a lion
and the heart of a lion
and the heart.
Nearly a century together, it seems unfair
that you should be apart.

Godspeed, said Scott, when you made your trip beyond Earth.
And I, too, said it today when I heard the news.
You were the best one of the best ones, Mr. Glenn.
You were the last, and you will live forever.

11 thoughts on “The Best One of the Best Ones

  1. Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    Of tumbling clouds – and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed of -wheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hovering there
    I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung
    My eager craft through footless halls of air.
    Up, up, the long delirious, burning blue,
    I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace,
    Where never lark, or eagle flew.
    And while, with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
    the high untrespassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

    High Flight
    Pilot Officer Gillespie Macgee.

    To the stars, Col. Glenn


  2. Prof, sorry to be picky on this sad morning but Glenn was the third American in space following Alan Shepherd and Gus Grissom. He was the first American to orbit the Earth.

    When I get home to the tropics, whose wondrousness reveals itself to me even more clearly now following four cold wet days in Nyorc, I’m going to pull my special edition of The Right Stuff orffa my shelf and watch it for the fiftieth or so time (“That is a spacecraft, sir. We do not refer to it as a capsule”). I know Glenn wasn’t thrilled with the film, wherein Ed Harris portrayed him as a bit of a rah-rah boy who brown nosed his way up the Mercury Seven hierarchy but showed his mettle when the heat shield light malfunctioned, but it’s such a terrific representation of the America of its time and place – and the performances are flawless to a man, including Levon Helm’s succulent little stint as Chuck Yeager’s late buddy Jack Ridley.

    Just in case you’ve forgotten, here are some of the key cast members, many of whom first broke out with this film:

    Glenn – Ed Harris

    Grissom – Fred Ward

    Cooper – Dennis Quaid

    Shepard – Scott Glenn

    Schirra – Lance Henrikson

    Carpenter – Charles Frank

    Slayton – Scott Paulin

    Chuck Yeager – Sam Shepard

    …and Chuck Yeager himself played Sam the bartender at the Happy Bottom Riding Academy.

    Come on now people, this was a monster cast.

    If you haven’t watched it yet, you’ll never again have a more appropriate weekend to waste on a great movie.


  3. maddog, you wrote:
    “…baseball, Mystery Science Theater 3ooo, and the space program…”
    That was startlingly close to my formative things, although I would have added Steve Martin’s “Let’s Get Small”.

    And I agree – 2016 sucked (both personally and politically), and I am unwilling (so far) to share Gator’s rather global advance panning of 2017.

    To 2017 – the Year Of The Sofa! Where nothing bad can happen!

    Liked by 1 person

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