It was February 22, 1964, and my father-in-law's dad heard on a Philadelphia radio station that John Glenn would be attending the Freedom Foundation Awards in Valley Forge, where he would be presented with the George Washington Award, which celebrates “patriotism, responsible citizenship, values, and community.”

My father-in-law's dad didn't think he and his boys would be able to get into the ceremony because it was, as my father-in-law says, "a hoity-toity event," but he decided to take his boys anyway with hope that if nothing else, they'd at least be able to catch a glimpse of John Glenn.

Not only were the boys invited into the award ceremony, but they were allowed to meet John Glenn himself. Mr. Glenn took the time to chat with the boys. He also autographed a book for them (which they still have) and posed for photos.

In the picture below, my father-in-law is the taller boy in boots and his brother is the shorter boy, also wearing boots. Both were dressed as G.I. Joe because he was popular at the time and they'd decided to dress as him when they woke that morning, not knowing the real adventure that lay in store. The lady in the top row, second from the left is John Glenn's mother and next to her, his father.

Long Family Archives

In this photo, John Glenn is signing a book titled, "George Washington" for the boys. Standing behind him is his wife, Mrs. Annie Glenn.

Long Family Archives

John Glenn passed away at the age of 95 on Thursday, December 8, 2016, and today, we remember the life and legacy of a husband, father, grandfather, Marine,  American aviator, engineer, astronaut, and United States Senator and the enormous impact he had not only on the earth and sky but also in our hearts.

[via Freedom Foundation/Biography]