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John Glenn is gone. Let's hope his kind of courage is not.
December 9, 2016
If only we had more heroes like the one we just lost.
Senator John Glenn's passing, to me, seems a bit ironic as we all hunker down in this new age of rage.
Witness today the headline today in the Wall Street Journal informing us ”American Dream is Fading.” Tragic irony but brilliant exit for this icon of true American greatness.
We are then left to ponder what has happened to America since the glory days of men with “The Right Stuff.” Theirs was a time when civility actually had a place in the nation's everyday discourse. Republicans and Democrats fiercely debated their vastly different points of view only to break bread together at night. Days when public interest truly had meaning.
Men like John Glenn demonstrated raw American courage with no expectation. Unafraid to sit atop a cylinder of rocket fuel and have engineers push the button, his ambition was merely to blast America into a new orbit of prosperity. And he did, asking very little in return. Selfless. Heroic. No social media. Nothing but thanks from a nation for a job well done.
Ok, sure, there was a ticker tape parade. Well deserved. Eventually, he was rewarded with a life of public service. And even then, he was content to lead a relatively simple life and remained true to his country and his family.
There was a time in America when those two qualities were enough for average Americans to raise a family and lead an incredibly rewarding life. What has happened to our country during the short span of a great man's life to diminish so many?
We can only imagine what the rewards would be demanded today? In the brief time that I knew him, having the high honor and distinct privilege of working with him many years ago and very briefly, on an unsuccessful Presidential campaign for the Democratic nomination, I met a towering man, humble, generous and patriotic to his core.
As we ponder today's civic landscape, one can only imagine how different life would be if more men – and women – demonstrated the raw courage to explore and the courage to accomplish with little or no expectation of reward. Truth is, these people do exist but get little traction in today's culture of fame and politics of money.
Our nation is desperate for people like John Glenn, and his contemporaries, to emerge. Our system needs far reaching realignment so that it is no longer necessary to be a multi-millionaire to obtain a meaningful position – and effectiveness - in public service.
We seemingly owe it to the memory of a truly great man like John H. Glenn to try. Our nation asks us not to ride a rocket. Our nation asks us not to orbit the earth. Our nation demands only that we demonstrate the courage to listen to each other.
True greatness still resides in every community in our nation. This hero is gone and God Bless John Glenn. We can only hope the new heroes will now find the courage to finally step up and give us a glimpse of the inner greatness of America that has never been lost.