Examines the many layers that formed the man and unravels the reasons for his singular American Hero role
On February 20, 1962, John Glenn became a national star. That morning at Cape Canaveral, a small-town boy from Ohio took his place atop a rocket and soared into orbit to score a victory in the heavily contested Cold War. The television images were blurry black-and-white phantoms. The cameras shook as the rocket moved, but by the end of the day, one thing was clear: a new hero rode that rocket and became the center of the world's attention for the four hours and fifty-five minutes of his flight. From that day forward, Glenn restively wore the hero label. Refusing to let that dramatic day define his life, he went on to become a four-term US senator—and returned to space at the age of seventy-seven. He was a creation of the media, in some ways, but he was also a product of the Cold War. At a time when increasingly cynical Americans need heroes, his aura burns brightly in American memory.