His resume boasted tenure as a U.S. Senator, as well as an accomplished astronaut. A decorated fighter pilot and a dedicated Ohio Freemason, the Illustrious John Glenn, 33° was indeed a true inspiration to his Brethren and his entire country.
Born on July 18, 1921, John H. Glenn Jr. was raised in New Concord, Ohio where he quickly gained an aptitude for science. As soon as he graduated high school, he wasted no time beginning a career and personal life of seemingly endless accomplishments, entering the Marines straight from school and becoming a fighter pilot.
John was a true American hero, serving in both World War II and the Korean War, and flying a total of 149 missions. As a result of his bravery, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross six times before joining the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School where in 1957 he set a new speed record for a flight traveling from Los Angeles to New York. That cross-country flight lasted just three hours and 23 minutes.
A Journey to the Stars
Following his years of military service, John pursued a trailblazing career as an astronaut. In 1959, he was selected for the U.S. Space Program and was announced as one of the “Mercury 7,” astronauts. His biggest contribution to NASA’s work came on February 20, 1962, when he piloted the Friendship 7 spacecraft and became the first American in history to orbit the Earth.
Naturally, John’s mission cemented him as a national hero in the United States and, in honor of his pioneering work, President John F. Kennedy presented him with the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. Ultimately, his new-found fame would guide him into decade-spanning career in politics representing his home state of Ohio.
Senator Glenn, A Proud Son of Ohio
After departing NASA in 1964, John decided to dedicate himself to serving the public. Focusing his campaign on science and educations and fusing it with his celebrity status as an astronaut helped him win the Senate seat for Ohio in 1974. Having been extremely active in the state’s politics and environmental protection efforts, he carried all 88 counties in the election. Senator Glenn served his state in Washington D.C. for 25 years, retiring from the Senate in 1999.
Following his congressional career, in 2000 he helped found the John Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy (now part of the John Glenn School of Public Affairs) at Ohio State University as a way of encourage young academics to pursue studies in public service.
From Rocketman to Freemason
As a Freemason, Glenn had a long and accomplished journey beginning in 1964 when he petitioned Concord Lodge No. 688 in his hometown of New Concord, Ohio. While he was elected to receive the Masonic degrees, his busy schedule consistently interfered with his ability to receive the degrees for another 14 years. It wasn’t until August 19, 1978, that he gained his degrees in a “Mason at Sight” ceremony conducted by the Grand Master of Ohio, Jerry C. Rasor. Due to his celebrity status as a Senator and astronaut, the ceremony proved to be a major event. In fact, the nearby high school gymnasium in Chillicothe was the only building big enough to accommodate the hundreds of Masons that were in attendance.
John would go on to receive the Scottish Rite Degrees in the Valley of Cincinnati on April 11, 1997. The very next year he was named Sovereign Grand Inspector General and became a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason, Honorary Member of the Supreme Council. Indeed, he was wearing his 33rd degree ring when he made history once more as he returned to the stars on October 29, 1998. On this date, he became the oldest man in history to travel to space at the age of 77 – a record that remains unbroken.
Without a doubt, the Illustrious John Glenn remains a true embodiment of Ohio Freemasonry. His dedication to his country, the respect he showed to his community and the honor with which he carried himself through his life are the very traits that define Masonic values.
Learn more about famous Freemasons, starting with Bro. Buffalo Bill Cody.