Wednesday, April 4, 2012

This couple is made from the right stuff

From: Toni J.
Sent: April 4, 2012
To: undisclosed recipients
Subject: Fw: This couple is made from the right stuff

John Glenn & Annie
This couple is made from the right stuff
A true inspirational story I had never heard.  This couple is made from the “right stuff.”

For  half a century, the world has applauded John Glenn as a heart-stirring American  hero. He lifted the nation's spirits when, as one of the original Mercury 7  astronauts, he was blasted alone into orbit around the Earth; the enduring  affection for him is so powerful that even now people find themselves misting up  at the sight of his face or the sound of his voice.

But for all these  years, Glenn has had a hero of his own, someone who he has seen display endless  courage of a different kind:

Annie Glenn.

They have been married  for 68 years.

He is 90; she turned 92 on Friday.

This weekend  there has been news coverage of the 50th anniversary of Glenn's flight into  orbit. We are being reminded that, half a century down the line, he remains  America's unforgettable hero.

He has never really bought that.

Because the heroism he most cherishes is of a sort that is seldom  cheered. It belongs to the person he has known longer than he has known anyone  else in the world.

John Glenn and Annie Castor first knew each other  when -- literally -- they shared a playpen.

In New Concord, Ohio, his  parents and hers were friends. When the families got together, their children  played.

John -- the future Marine fighter pilot, the future test-pilot  ace, the future astronaut -- was pure gold from the start. He would end up  having what it took to rise to the absolute pinnacle of American regard during  the space race; imagine what it meant to be the young John Glenn in the small  confines of New Concord.

Three-sport varsity athlete, most admired boy  in town, Mr. Everything.

Annie Castor was bright, was caring, was  talented, was generous of spirit. But she could talk only with the most  excruciating of difficulty. It haunted her.

Her stuttering was so severe  that it was categorized as an "85%" disability -- 85% of the time, she could not  manage to make words come out.

When she tried to recite a poem in  elementary school, she was laughed at. She was not able to speak on the  telephone. She could not have a regular conversation with a friend.

And  John Glenn loved her.

Even as a boy he was wise enough to understand  that people who could not see past her stutter were missing out on knowing a  rare and wonderful girl.

They married on April 6, 1943. As a military  wife, she found that life as she and John moved around the country could be  quite hurtful. She has written: "I can remember some very painful experiences --  especially the ridicule."

In department stores, she would wander  unfamiliar aisles trying to find the right section, embarrassed to attempt to  ask the salesclerks for help. In taxis, she would have to write requests to the  driver, because she couldn't speak the destination out loud. In restaurants, she  would point to the items on the menu.

A fine musician, Annie, in every  community where she and John moved, would play the organ in church as a way to  make new friends. She and John had two children; she has written: "Can you  imagine living in the modern world and being afraid to use the telephone?  'Hello' used to be so hard for me to say. I worried that my children would be  injured and need a doctor. Could I somehow find the words to get the information  across on the phone?"

John, as a Marine aviator, flew 59 combat missions  in World War II and 90 during the Korean War. Every time he was deployed, he and  Annie said goodbye the same way. His last words to her before leaving were:

"I'm just going down to the corner store to get a pack of gum."

And, with just the two of them there, she was able to always reply:

"Don't be long."

On that February day in 1962 when the world  held its breath and the Atlas rocket was about to propel him toward space, those  were their words, once again. And in 1998, when, at 77, he went back to space  aboard the shuttle Discovery, it was an understandably tense time for them. What  if something happened to end their life together?

She knew what he would  say to her before boarding the shuttle. He did -- and this time he gave her a  present to hold onto:

A pack of gum.  
She carried it in a pocket  next to her heart until he was safely home.

Many times in her life she  attempted various treatments to cure her stutter. None worked.

But in  1973, she found a doctor in Virginia who ran an intensive program she and John  hoped would help her. She traveled there to enroll and to give it her best  effort. The miracle she and John had always waited for at last, as miracles will  do, arrived. At age 53, she was able to talk fluidly, and not in brief,  anxiety-ridden, agonizing bursts.

John has said that on the first day he  heard her speak to him with confidence and clarity, he dropped to his knees to  offer a prayer of gratitude.

He has written: "I saw Annie's perseverance  and strength through the years and it just made me admire her and love her even  more." He has heard roaring ovations in countries around the globe for his own  valor, but his awe is reserved for Annie, and what she accomplished: "I don't know if I would have had the courage."

Her voice is so clear and steady  now that she regularly gives public talks. If you are lucky enough to know the  Glenns, the sight and sound of them bantering and joking with each other and  playfully finishing each others' sentences is something that warms you and makes  you thankful just to be in the same room.

Monday will be the anniversary  of the Mercury space shot, and once again people will remember, and will speak  of the heroism of Glenn the astronaut.

But if you ever find yourself at  an event where the Glenns are appearing, and you want to see someone so brimming  with pride and love that you may feel your own tears start to well up, wait  until the moment that Annie stands to say a few words to the audience.

And as she begins, take a look at her husband's  eyes.
 True - from Snopes!!!

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