CAMBRIDGE, Ohio (WCMH) — The cities of Cambridge and New Concord will be celebrating the life of John Glenn this weekend.
Sunday will mark 100 years since the famed astronaut and senator from Ohio was born.
“He’s my childhood hero and to meet him. He was larger than life,” said Astronaut Dan Thomas. “He was an icon. When I saw him walk down the hall of Johnson Space Center, you could see the employees stick their heads out of the hallway, ‘there’s John Glenn! That’s John Glenn!’ He was just a huge, larger-than-life figure.”
Thomas said he was in first grade when his class stopped everything to gather around a small black and white TV to watch the first American orbit the earth.
“When we went back to our classroom, I spent the rest of the morning not listening to my teacher at the front of the room, but I was looking out the windows hoping to see John Glen passing over Cleveland, Ohio,” Thomas said. “Little did I know, he wasn’t gonna pass over Cleveland. Even if he did, I wouldn’t be able to see him but I was hooked.
Thomas is the grand marshall of this weekend’s John Glenn Centennial Celebration.
“We’ve actually been meeting for six months now to plan and just different ideas have come up and a lot of them have come to fruition,” said Debbie Allender, operation manager for the Museum. “We have lots of activities for kids in the park. Cosi’s coming with free space kits for the first 100 kiddos. I think John and Annie would be very happy to know that the communities are coming together to celebrate his birthday.”
The museum in New Concord was once Glenn’s boyhood home. His bedroom has been recreated making his early inspirations clear to see.
“When you walk in here, you can kind of tell what his hobbies and interests were. We’ve got the planes hanging up from the ceiling and he told us that he used to spend a lot of time making airplanes and he would hang them from the ceiling when he was done,” Allender said.
Thomas hopes the celebration will lead to the next great generation of Ohioans like Glenn once inspired him.
“Just having incredible role models from the Wright brothers to John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, they helped pave the way and part of the reason I’m here. I’m hoping I can inspire that next generation,” Thomas said. “For many of the astronauts in the space shuttle program, even if you weren’t from Ohio, John Glenn was an incredible influence. If you asked them, who inspired you as a young boy, you’re going to hear John Glenn, John Glenn, John Glenn over and over again.”
Thomas said Glenn had that very thought on his mind when he wrote the foreword for one of Thomas’ books on an “All-Ohio” space mission.
“He wrote, ‘We’ve had the first American to orbit the earth was from Ohio. The first human to land on the moon was from Ohio. One of the first Three humans to orbit the moon was from the state of Ohio so in the decades ahead when we land the first humans on the Planet Mars. why not Ohio?’ That was John Glenn’s thinking. Let’s get more Ohioans going.”