ADA — As a fighter pilot, test pilot, senator, one-time presidential candidate and two-time astronaut, John Glenn has spent the better part of eight decades serving his country.
To recognize that devotion, Ohio Northern University presented Glenn with an honorary doctorate degree in public service Sunday at the school’s commencement ceremony.
Glenn said he was just grateful for the opportunity to serve.
“You get a lot of satisfaction out of that,” he said before the ceremony. “You don’t get rich doing it, normally, but riches come in some other ways, too.”
Glenn started his career as a Marine aviator in World War II. He retired from the U.S. Senate in 1999 after four terms. Nowadays, he and wife, Annie, split time between Washington and Columbus, where The Ohio State University has the John Glenn School of Public Affairs. At 88, Glenn continues to preach the importance of being active in government.
“Our country depends on that,” he said. “We’re set up not as a country that has some little oligarchy group. That’s what we got away from in 1776. This country puts an emphasis on every single individual.”
He said everyone has a responsibility for some form of involvement.
“It doesn’t mean you have to run for public office, but of that interest will come a lot of people that will want to run for public office and that’s important.”
The former astronaut, who during the early days of the Mercury Program became the first American to orbit the Earth and more recently on board space shuttle Discovery became the oldest to do so, also weighed in on the future of the U.S. space program.
Glenn said he wants to see the shuttle continue flying. The space shuttle program is to be retired this year with NASA astronauts hitching a $55.8 million ride from the Russians to visit the International Space Station.
“We’re going to spend almost as much taking people back and forth paying the Russians as we would keeping the space shuttle going,” he said.
As for the moon, Glenn said he doesn’t see the cost of exploration justifiable right now.
“If we had plenty of money and could set up an absolutely optimum program, putting a base on the moon would be all right. But where we’re tighter on money and don’t have that, I want to see us concentrate on and make the best use of the $100 billion investment we have in that International Space Station.”