When Senator John Glenn and his six fellow astronauts touched down after spending nine days in space covering 3.6 million miles, they made us proud of our space program and our country. But this history-making mission has been more than a source of pride; it's been an opportunity for us to learn about ourselves and our potential as individuals and a nation.
Can you imagine a more impressive or admirable life than that of John Glenn? He started his career as a combat pilot, fighting so courageously in two wars that he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on five occasions, among about a dozen other honors. It's no wonder that Glenn returned from space in time to celebrate Veterans Day alongside the millions of other brave men and women who have risked their lives to preserve our freedom.
In retrospect, it makes sense that a war hero like Glenn would go on to become one of the heroic astronauts in our fledgling space program. But we should remember that at the time, the Mercury missions were an enterprise that few people imagined could succeed. On February 20, 1962, when Glenn became the first American ever to orbit the earth, he paved the way for a generation of discovery that has changed our horizons forever.
And as if that weren't enough service to his country, for four consecutive terms Glenn served with distinction as a U.S. Senator from the state of Ohio. Seeing him go into space again at the age of 77 was an incredible inspiration. It was also wonderful to see Walter Cronkite back on the air for the Discovery mission. His original broadcasts of the Apollo missions captivated millions - including many of Glenn's fellow shuttle astronauts.
Tomorrow, 36 years after the ticker tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes celebrating his first space flight, we'll honor John Glenn again. I hope you come out to honor his accomplishments. And when you cheer, I hope you realize that this is not just the story of one man. It takes seven brilliant and courageous people to fly the Space Shuttle and conduct the more than 80 scientific experiments that the Discovery crew conducted. And these astronauts exemplify the work of thousands of scientists, engineers, and researchers whose constant striving and consistent hunger to learn more and more has left an indelible mark on the 20th Century.
I hope as a result of this mission, more and more children want to grow up to be astronauts, scientists, and explorers of the unknown. These are the people who discover the most basic laws of nature, cure diseases, and pioneer the kinds of fascinating and important technological innovations that illuminate and change the way we see the world. Their talent and perseverance will put no limit on what we can accomplish as a country and a world. From Detroit, Michigan, this is Mayor Rudy Giuliani.