Dale Butland in The New York Times:
Columbus, Ohio — World War II and Korean War hero. First American to orbit the Earth. Kennedy family friend and confidant. The only four-term senator in Ohio history. An astronaut again at the age of 77. Newspaper writers and evening news broadcasters will detail John Glenn’s one-of-a-kind biography — and most of them will surely observe that his passing on Thursday at the age of 95 marks “the end of an era.” To me, John actually personified an era — one that, like him, has largely passed from the scene and may never again be recaptured. It was a period whose values were forged during the Great Depression, tested in the bloodiest war and expressed most clearly at the personal level by the interlocking virtues of modesty, courage and conviction. Beginning in 1980 and continuing for nearly two decades, I was lucky enough to work for him, including as press secretary and director of his final re-election campaign in 1992. We were also friends, and I will cherish having been able to speak with him shortly before he died.
Despite his international celebrity, the ticker-tape parades and the schools and streets named in his honor, John never let any of it go to his head. He dined with kings, counseled presidents and signed autographs for athletes and movie stars. But he never pulled rank, rarely raised his voice and remained unfailingly polite and conscious of his responsibilities as a hero and a role model until the day he died. The courage John displayed wasn’t merely physical, though he certainly had plenty of that. Anyone who flew 149 combat missions in two wars as a Marine fighter pilot — and then volunteered to become a Mercury 7 astronaut at a time when our rockets were just as likely to blow up on the launchpad as they were to return home safely — obviously had physical courage to spare. But for me, even more impressive was John’s personal and political bravery, especially when it came to defending the values and friends he held dear.