Scroll down for an annotated photo gallery about John Glenn.
From my interview with Tom Wolfe in the August 2011 issue of American History.
So define “hero” for us, Mr. Wolfe.
In my mind, it’s always someone who risked his life for us. But that’s probably just my view, a classic definition. Someone can be a great role model, like a father, yet still not fit that classic definition of ‘hero.’
To me, the word ‘hero’ is bandied about loosely these days.
Has there ever been a hero of Wall Street? I get asked by groups all the time to make motivational speeches: ‘Do you have The Right Stuff?’ I decline, but I want to ask, ‘How many of your fellow employees have died this year in the performance of their duties?’ Risking of life is a more stable measure of heroism for me….
[John] Glenn, in his way, was engaged in single combat with his Soviet counterpart. These were the days of the space race. So even though it wasn’t face to face, he was having a duel in the sky. And so the cops at the intersections in Manhattan looked at him go by and they cried, because, in one sense at least, he had “protected” us from the Soviets.