Memorials for John Glenn pop up across central Ohio

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Alongside a display of plane departures at the airport which bears his name, a photo of John Glenn watches over travelers.

Across the city of Columbus, the former astronaut, war veteran and U.S. Senator was remembered Friday.

“Just genuine,” Jeff Thomas, an archivist for The Ohio State University, said. “I really couldn’t ask for a nicer person.”

Thomas has taken care of Glenn’s collection and the other Ohio Congressional delegation archives at OSU since 1998. He showed NBC4 around the displays at Page Hall, home of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs.

In display cases, visitors can see items like a trumpet Glenn played alongside his father, a World War One veteran who played the bugle.

“He would play echo Taps with his father,” Thomas said. “His father would be on one side of the cemetery and he would be off on the other side.”

Glenn also served for years as Marine pilot and “flew 148 combat missions, if you can believe that,” Thomas said.

Among many other things for which Glenn is known are his career as an astronaut and his decades-long career as a U.S. Senator.

“He was really concerned about cynicism and young people and the general public toward government, and government service,” Thomas said.

Glenn’s legacy is now carried on here at the college named in his honor, where students study public policy. It’s a fitting tribute for the man who spent most of his life serving the public.

“Thank you for being the most real example of what it means to be a true citizen,” Michael Watson, a second-year Glenn College student, said.

As Watson signed a guestbook at Page Hall in Glenn’s memory, he told NBC4 he hoped to follow Glenn’s example.

“He had done such great things, and it would’ve been fine for him to either retire or to go give speeches places, but for him to come back to Ohio State, to have a college just dedicated around public service, I think speaks volumes about him and what he was really passionate about,” Watson said.

That’s a sentiment echoed by others on campus, such as grad student Christopher Rupp, who said he got to meet Glenn a couple of times.

“Just the kind of man—I mean, he really embodied living beyond yourself for other people,” Rupp said.

Third-year student Amber Gruenhagen agreed.

“I just felt like he did a lot for the school and for the Ohio State community as a whole and for our country,” Gruenhagen said.

Around Page Hall, Glenn’s memory is everywhere, from mementos of his life to the generations of public servants he’s influenced.

“Being a true leader is not just getting people to follow you, it’s putting out a message that also changes the world,” Watson said. “And I think that that was 100 percent in everything Senator Glenn did, and that’s the main purpose of this college.”

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