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Glenn Returns to Cape Canaveral, Accepts Medal from President Kennedy

Feb. 23, 1962 - Lieut. Col. John H. Glenn Jr., the first American to orbit the earth, returned to his take-off point today. He was honored by President Kennedy and received the cheers of a grateful nation. The President flew to Cape Canaveral, where the three-orbit flight started Tuesday, to tell the 40-year-old marine how “proud of him” his countrymen were. Then the President pinned NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal on the astronaut and read a citation that praised his “great professional skill,” his “unflinching courage” and his “extraordinary ability to perform most difficult tasks under conditions of great physical stress and personal danger.” At the ceremonies, Colonel Glenn modestly emphasized that the flight of almost five hours had been made possible only by a team effort of all government, industry, and military elements of Project Mercury. He said he had merely been the “figurehead.” On Monday, the extensive round of ceremonies is to resume with an appearance before a joint session of Congress. New York City will give him a ticker tape parade Thursday. His hometown of New Concord, Ohio, wants to honor him too, but plans are not yet firm.

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