November 2010

Question:

Dear Abbot Pennings,

What notable American read the oath of office to the graduating ROTC cadets from the class of 1965?

Bern Diederich ’65

Answer:

My dearest Bern,

I thank you warmly for your letter. Perchance you count yourself among the 35 ROTC cadets of 1965? Regardless, it is wonderful to hear from one of our more veteran alumni.

In May of that year, there was indeed a luminary of American history on campus to commission ROTC cadets as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army. Astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. read the cadets their oath of office and, on the very next day, addressed the entire Class of 1965 during its commencement exercises.

Glenn was the first American and third person to orbit the Earth, a feat he achieved aboard Friendship 7 in 1962. The former U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot joined NASA’s Mercury program as one of the organization’s original astronauts.

After retiring from NASA, Glenn entered politics as a Democrat and represented Ohio in the U.S. Senate from 1974 to 1999. Glenn received a Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978 and was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1998, at age 77, he flew on the space shuttle Discovery to become the oldest person to fly in space and the only one to participate in both the Mercury and shuttle programs.

Responses to “Ask the Abbot” questions are penned by St. Norbert College staff in the name of Abbot Bernard Pennings, O.Praem., who founded St. Norbert College in 1898.