The memorial celebration of hero astronaut John Glenn was held at the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Florida on Friday.
Outside the Heroes and Legends building, officials displayed a flowered wreath bearing the message, “Our American Hero: Forever Remembered,” along with Glenn’s NASA portrait from the 1998 Discovery space shuttle mission, for which he became the oldest person ever to venture into space at age 77.
In close proximity to the wreath and photo was a replica of the silver Mercury-Atlas 6 rocket, named Friendship 7, that flew Glenn into space in 1962, making him the first American to orbit the Earth.
Glenn died Thursday afternoon surrounded by family at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, according to a statement from the hospital. He was 95.
“You just can’t describe what a fine gentleman he was and what a passion he had for America’s space program, and for flying. And that’s who John Glenn was,” said Kennedy Space Center director Robert Cabana at Friday’s ceremony, according to local news outlets. “He was just a truly, truly fine gentleman. And he is going to be greatly, greatly missed.”
Shuttle astronaut Jon McBride also spoke at the ceremony, sharing his adoration for his space hero, whom he called “a prince of our universe.”
“There’s not a man on this Earth that I admired much more than John Glenn. He was a special guy. We’re going to miss him,” McBride told the crowd. “But he lived 95 years. Healthy, wealthy and wise. He had Annie with him by his side for 74 of those years. What more could a guy ask for? So God bless you, John Glenn.”
Inside the venue, which houses the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame including Glenn’s inaugural 1990 class, artifacts such as Glenn’s orbital map, his pilot helmet and flight gloves, and mission control consoles from his Friendship 7 flight were displayed.
After a successful space career, Glenn was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974 where he represented Ohio as a Democrat. He went on to serve four terms for his beloved home state, later becoming a contender for the vice presidential nomination three times and ran for president in 1984’s Democratic primaries.
Glenn will lie in state in Ohio’s capitol building before a public viewing at the Ohio Statehouse and a memorial service at Ohio State University’s Mershon Auditorium planned for later next week.