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Max Rowe Pays Tribute To Our American Hero, John Glenn

Sen. Richard J. Durbin

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Mr. President, I rise today to share with my colleagues an article written by Max Rowe. On November 8, 1998, Mr. Rowe, a guest columnist for the Springfield Journal-Register, wrote an article paying tribute to John Glenn entitled, ``Glenn is a hero for the ages.''

Mr. President, I would like to speak for a brief moment about Mr. Rowe and some of his accomplishments. Max attended the University of Illinois where he received his B.A. and law degree (J.D.). Following his academic career at the University of Illinois, he furthered his education by pursuing a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago. After completing his education, Max went on to work for the Kirkland & Ellis law firm where he dedicated over 30 years of his life to his true passion, the practice of law. In 1995 Max was elected to the Illinois Senior Hall of Fame, and he volunteers part-time at the Memorial Medical Center in Springfield. On the side, he is a management consultant and writes for the Journal-Register.

I believe Max's life experiences inspired him to pay tribute to John Glenn, a man whom he respects so much, and a man who will keep withstanding the test of time, much like himself. John Glenn, one of his all-time heroes and someone I have had the honor to serve with in the Senate, is an inspiration to so many people in so many ways. To some he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, an astronaut, a United States Senator, or a Presidential candidate, but to all of us he is a true American hero.

Mr. President, I ask that the full text of Max Rowe's article, ``Glenn is a hero for the ages,'' be printed in the Record.

The article follows:

One of my all-time heroes is former and present astronaut John Glenn, who is now 77 years old and has just completed a mission with six other astronauts on the space shuttle discovery. We senior citizens and those of you over 50 remember well when John Glenn blasted off Cape Canaveral into Earth orbit on Friendship 7 almost 37 years ago. In that five-hour mission he would orbit the Earth three times at an altitude of 100 miles, traveling at over 17,000 mph. From start to finish the venerable and trusted Walter Cronkite covered the flight on our TVs, using words only, as there were no sophisticated cameras at Cape Canaveral or on board Glenn's space ship that could cover the actual flight. At lift-off Cronite yelled, ``Go, baby!'' On board Friendship 7, John Glenn had only one simple, hand-held camera to snap shots out of his window. In Glenn's interviews after his splashdown, he kept using the word ``pleasant'' to describe his experience with zero gravity on his flight and his views of Earth. He is quoted as saying, ``This free-floating feeling, I don't know how to describe it except that it is very pleasant. It's an interesting feeling. Sunset at this altitude is tremendous. I've never seen anything like this. It was a truly beautiful, beautiful sight.'' Before Glenn's 1962 spaceflight, two Russians had orbited Earth, Glenn helped us catch up with (and eventually surpass) the Russians in spaceflight experience and technology. On the afternoon of Oct. 29, 1998, I sat before my TV waiting through two short delays for the launch. At 1:20 p.m. ``successful lift-off'' put John Glenn and six other astronauts into an almost nine-day space flight on Discovery. What a contrast to his 1962 flight! Discovery has about a dozen high-tech cameras to keep NASA and us informed of every phase of the flight and thousands of controls and pieces of complicated, marvelous equipment to record everything from start to finish. At last we will learn, among other things, the effect of spaceflight on an older person and on the aging process. John Glenn has been a role model for us all his life, serving with great distinction in World War II as a Marine combat flier on 59 missions. He has been decorated with 20 metals, including six Distinguished Flying Crosses and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. He married his childhood sweetheart in 1943 and has two children and two grandsons. Glenn will retire in January 1999 after serving as a U.S. Senator from his home State of Ohio for 24 years. He has proven it is possible to be a happy and devoted family man in spite of living for so many years with fame and in the spotlight of Washington, DC. I hope every American is as proud and thrilled as I was as John Glenn and his six companions headed off into space on their historic mission. John Glenn's return to space is important to all us senior citizens and to people over 50 years young, who will soon join our rapidly growing senior group. He is verifying that we are not ``over the hill'' and that with proper physical, emotional and mental activity, we still have many satisfying and useful years to live. Before heading into space, Glenn spent over 500 hours in rigorous physical training to prepare himself for his very demanding space journey. Those of you who have been reading my earlier columns will remember that one of my recommendations for living to age 104 is regular, vigorous exercise. For most of us seniors, a 30-minute daily brisk walk will do wonders for our health and happiness. The worldwide interest in this spaceflight will do much to heighten interest in space travel for the rest of us and help NASA's future programs and funding. Let's you and I make a date to fly to Mars in the year 2010! God bless you and keep you safe, John Glenn. You truly have all ``The Right Stuff!''