COLUMBUS, Ohio – A graduate student from the suburbs of New York has made it his mission to fight for a series of tangible honor of the late astronaut John Glenn, including a statue, a portrait, and a with Glenn the Ohio birthplace on the National Historic Register.
It is not rocket science, but the 25-year-old Adam Sackowitz, the goals are lofty.
When Ohio added a Holocaust monument for its Statehouse grounds in 2014, it was after three-year battle waged by the governor, $2.1 million, primarily in the private fundraising and no shortage of political conflict. Getting a birthplace recognized on a national level, in particular where the famous resident spent only two years, is also a challenge.
Sackowitz, of Long Island, is the dedication of a groupie when it comes to Glenn, and he believes the space hero’s legacy can make it all happen.
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Glenn died Dec. 8 at age 95. He was the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962, was the oldest person in space at age 77 in 1998. He was also a decorated war hero with a record-setting aviator and a long-time US senator.
“I am of the opinion that we need to have something prominent in Ohio, and the people are very positive,” said Sackowitz, who obtained his master’s degree in history from the St. John’s University. “John Glenn really inspired me. He left a mark on me, and the whole country. He brought people together. The country is, in many respects, is divided now, but he was loved by everyone. You saw that at the memorial.”
Glenn lay in repose in the Ohio Statehouse longer than any other figure in history, including slain President Abraham Lincoln. Thousands of people came to pay their respects and 2,500, including Vice-President Joe Biden, took part in a commemoration at the Ohio State University the next day.
State Rep. Michael Sheehy, a Toledo-area Democrat, said that he is ready to work with Sackowitz on getting a Glenn statue made and placed on the Statehouse grounds — preferably on the lawn.
“I think we need to strike while the iron is hot, because our culture moves so quickly, and some young people are just stupid that he is such a great figure, not only in Ohio, but in the big world,” Sheehy said. “In my opinion, he was the most public figure of my life.”
Sackowitz said he first became interested in Glenn as a second grader, he witnessed Glenn’s return to space in 1998. His grandparents had participated in the ticker tape parade in New York celebrating Glenn’s 1962 orbit.
Sheehy remembers that great performance, and remembers later handing out flyers for Glenn’s U.S. Senate campaign while he was in college.
“He is the kind of man that will appeal to all generations,” Sheehy said.
The officials are reviewing Sackowitz the application who are looking for a historic designation for Glenn’s birthplace in Cambridge, Ohio, according to Emmy Beach, spokeswoman of the Ohio History Connection, a cheap history of the group. Sackowitz said he’s working with the mayor of the city on a possible plaque marking the site in the event the request is denied.
Beach said that most of the properties which the national historic register lived in “during the fertile years of a person’s life,” as was the case with inventor Thomas Edison’s house in Milan in the north of Ohio, but not for the Glenn property in Cambridge. They said Glenn’s childhood home in New Concord, Ohio, where the Glenn family moved when John was 2 years old, is maintained as a state historic site and the museum.