Saturday, March 31, 2012


This is quite a love story! 
For half a century, the world has applauded John Glenn as a 
heart-stirring American hero.  He lifted the nation's spirits when, 
as one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, he was blasted alone 
into orbit around the Earth; the enduring affection for him is so 
powerful that even now people find themselves misting up at the sight 
of his face or the sound of his voice.

But for all these years, Glenn has had a hero of his own, someone who he has seen display endless courage of a different kind:
Annie Glenn.

They have been married for 68 years. He is 90; she turned 92.  We are being reminded that, half a century down the line, he remains America 's unforgettable hero. He has never really bought that.Because the heroism he most cherishes is of a sort that is seldom cheered.  It belongs to the person he has known longer than he has known anyone else in the world.

John Glenn and Annie Castor first knew each other when -- literally
-- they shared a playpen. In New Concord, Ohio, his parents and hers were friends.  When the families got together, their children played.
John -- the future Marine fighter pilot, the future test-pilot ace,
the future astronaut -- was pure gold from the start.  He would end
up having what it took to rise to the absolute pinnacle of American
regard during the space race; imagine what it meant to be the young
John Glenn in the small confines of New Concord.

Three-sport varsity athlete, most admired boy in town, Mr.  Everything.
Annie Castor was bright, was caring, was talented, was generous of
spirit.  But she could talk only with the most excruciating of
difficulty.  It haunted her.

Her stuttering was so severe that it was categorized as an "85%"
disability -- 85% of the time, she could not manage to make words come out.

When she tried to recite a poem in elementary school, she was laughed
at.  She was not able to speak on the telephone.  She could not have
a regular conversation with a friend. And John Glenn loved her.

Even as a boy he was wise enough to understand that people who could not see past her stutter were missing out on knowing a rare and wonderful girl.

They married on April 6, 1943.  As a military wife, she found that  life as she and John moved around the country could be quite hurtful.  She has written: "I can remember some very painful experiences -- especially the ridicule."

In department stores, she would wander unfamiliar aisles trying to
find the right section, embarrassed to attempt to ask the salesclerks
for help.  In taxis, she would have to write requests to the driver,
because she couldn't speak the destination out loud.  In restaurants,
she would point to the items on the menu.

A fine musician, Annie, in every community where she and John moved,
would play the organ in church as a way to make new friends.  She and
John had two children; she has written: "Can you imagine living in
the modern world and being afraid to use the telephone?  'Hello' used
to be so hard for me to say.  I worried that my children would be
injured and need a doctor.  Could I somehow find the words to get the
information across on the phone?"

John, as a Marine aviator, flew 59 combat missions in World War II
and 90 during the Korean War. 
Every time he was deployed, he and
Annie said goodbye the same way.  His last words to her before leaving were:   "I'm just going down to the corner store to get a pack of gum."
And, with just the two of them there, she was able to always reply:
"Don't be long."

On that February day in 1962 when the world held its breath and the
Atlas rocket was about to propel him toward space, those were their
words, once again.  And in 1998, when, at 77, he went back to space aboard the shuttle Discovery, it was an understandably tense time for them.  What if something happened to end their life together?

She knew what he would say to her before boarding the shuttle.  He
did -- and this time he gave her a present to hold onto: A pack of gum.
She carried it in a pocket next to her heart until he was safely home.
Many times in her life she attempted various treatments to cure her
stutter.  None worked.

But in 1973, she found a doctor in Virginia who ran an intensive
program she and John hoped would help her.  She traveled there to
enroll and to give it her best effort. The miracle she and John had
always waited for at last, as miracles will do, arrived.  At age 53,
she was able to talk fluidly, and not in brief, anxiety-ridden,
agonizing bursts.
 John has said that on the first day he heard her speak to him with confidence and clarity, he dropped to his knees to offer a prayer of gratitude.

He has written: "I saw Annie's perseverance and strength through the
years and it just made me admire her and love her even more." He has
heard roaring ovations in countries around the globe for his own
valor, but his awe is reserved for Annie, and what she accomplished:
"I don't know if I would have had the courage."

Her voice is so clear and steady now that she regularly gives public
talks.  If you are lucky enough to know the Glenns, the sight and
sound of them bantering and joking with each other and playfully
finishing each others' sentences is something that warms you and
makes you thankful just to be in the same room.

Monday will be the anniversary of the Mercury space shot, and once
again people will remember, and will speak of the heroism of Glenn
the astronaut. But if you ever find yourself at an event where the Glenns are
appearing, and you want to see someone so brimming with pride and
love that you may feel your own tears start to well up, wait until
the moment that Annie stands to say a few words to the audience.

And as she begins, take a look at her husband's eyes.

John's Comments --- This is a TRUE American Hero and has the Right Stuff. My son was named after him. 


Anonymous said...

I think that is the most beautiful story Ihave ever heard. He is such a special man& not knowing his wife,she to has to be special also.

Anonymous said...
Today in wedding history, John Glenn married his childhood sweetheart Anna Margaret Castor. *************
Astronauts and theirs wives/families: