On Thursday, former astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, home to many of the nation’s military heroes. But Glenn, the first American to orbit the planet, resisted the earth’s pull to the very end.
Though Glenn died Dec. 8 in Columbus, Ohio, his family asked for his burial to be scheduled four months later on April 6, the 74th anniversary of his marriage to his high school sweetheart Annie.
Annie Glenn met the future Marine pilot and spaceman as a child in New Concord, Ohio, and considered him her best friend before they dated and eventually married.
Though Annie struggled with a stutter from a young age, Glenn never teased her, she recalled in a 2010 interview, according to USA Today. He “would just wait patiently until I finished trying to get the words out.”
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They remained happily married for 73 years, and Glenn is also survived by their son and daughter. Glenn is being interred in Section 35 in a private ceremony which will be live streamed by the U.S. Marine Corps and NASA TV.
The delay in burial was unusual in comparison with the arrangements for more than dozen astronauts who have been buried at the national cemetery, many of whom were interred about a month after their passing.
Courtney Dock, a spokeswoman for the cemetery, confirmed the later burial date was a deliberate request to mark “a significant date for the Glenn family.”
Dock also said that, for the majority of veterans who are interred in Arlington, burial schedules can vary more widely, depending on the eligibility of a service member for different levels of funeral services.