The Front Blog

Conversations from the Four Rivers Region

Datebook: February 20 – John Glenn Becomes 1st American to Orbit Earth 50 Years Ago

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Happy President’s Day! It’s an especially commemorative day this year. John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth 50 years ago. Also, Emmett Ashford became the first African American umpire 60 years ago, Edward O’Hare became the first WWII Flying Ace 70 years ago, and the US Post Office was established 220 years ago! All of these things are really cool, but it’s really hard to top “space stuff” so let’s look into John Glenn… He became the 5th person in space, the 3rd American in space and the 1st American to orbit the Earth, aboard Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962, on the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission, circling the globe 3 times during a flight lasting 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds. Perth, in Western Australia, became known worldwide as the “City of Light” when residents lit their house lights and streetlights as Glenn passed overhead. During the mission there was concern over a ground indication that his heat shield had come loose, which could allow it to fail during re-entry through the atmosphere, which would result in his capsule burning up. Flight controllers had Glenn modify his re-entry procedure by keeping his retrorocket pack on over the shield in an attempt to keep it in place. He made his splashdown safely, and afterwards it was determined that the indicator was faulty. After retiring from NASA, Glenn became a US Senator (D-Ohio) from 1974 to 1999. He has a Congressional Space Medal of Honor, and was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame. In 1998, he became the oldest person to fly in space and the only person to fly in both the Mercury and Space Shuttle programs. He is 90 years old.

It’s Monday, February 20th

The Lourdes Foundation hosts “Mardi Gras and All That Jazz” tomorrow night from 6 to 9 at Harrah’s Metropolis Hotel. The fundraising event features live music by Lew Jetton & 61 South, an auction of Bill Ford’s original artwork, and a variety of food and beverage vendors. Purchase $50 tickets by calling 444-2205.

A lecture on “Understanding Islam” will be given tomorrow at 4PM in the Curris Center Theater. Dr. Ossama Bahloul, imam of the Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is the featured speaker. The lecture is free and open to the public.

The men of Westside Baptist Church in Murray are holding a barbeque fundraiser for Alaska missions. They will be delivering barbeque plates during lunch on Friday, including barbeque butt, baked beans, a choice of coleslaw or potato salad, a roll, and banana pudding. The suggested donation is $7. Orders must be in by Wednesday. For more information, contact Ryan Dawson at 804-6996.

Find more community events at, where you can also learn about supporting public radio. Thanks.

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