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After Months Of Tributes, John Glenn Laid To Rest

John Glenn
The Ohio State University

Family and invited guests are gathering at Arlington National Cemetery to say their final goodbyes to fomer astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn.

Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, died Dec. 8 at age 95. He was mourned and celebrated at public events in home state Ohio at the time, but those close to the family say Thursday's interment is closed to public and news media so his wife and children have the chance for a more personal memorial.

In Glenn's honor, flags of federal entities and institutions will fly at half-staff.

A private chapel service begins at 9 a.m. At 9:40 a.m., a U.S. Marine Corps live-stream begins, which includes the procession to the graveside by caisson, a flyover, a graveside service and taps.

The event also will air on NASA TV.

Born in 1921, a native of New Concord, Ohio, Glenn took his first flight at eight years old - setting him on a long, airborne career path. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he left Muskingham College to enlist in the Marines and become a fighter pilot, completing over 100 missions in World War II and the Korean War.

In a 2012 tribute on Weekend Edition, Scott Simon said, "John Glenn was a mild-drinking, clean-joking, fair-haired flyboy among fighter jocks, but his fellow pilots hailed him respectfully as Magnet Ass, for all the shrapnel his plane took."

When NASA's Manned Space Program began in 1958, Glenn was selected as one of the original seven astronauts to participate in Project Mercury.  On the 50th anniversary of that first orbit, Glenn told NPR's Audie Cornish that the backdrop of the Cold War put extra pressure on his launch - not to mention, the uncertainty of the technology itself.

Around Ohio, Glenn leaves an easily visible legacy: the John Glenn Columbus International Airport, the Ohio State University's John Glenn School of Public Affairs, the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, the Senator John Glenn Highway, and even John Glenn High School in his hometown of New Concord.