Many marriages ended in divorce because of the excessive workload, Roberts noted. Turning to his wife, Sandra, he said proudly, "This gal's been with me for 57 years."
"Not that many," she told him. "We're going to be 55."
"Fifty-five. That's right, that's right," Roberts muttered.
"Golly, gosh, when you get old, you forget about numbers," Schepp piped up.
NASA's celebration of Glenn's three-orbit, five-hour flight aboard the Friendship 7 capsule began Friday at Cape Canaveral. The festivities move to Columbus, Ohio, on Monday, the actual anniversary. Glenn will be honored at a gala at Ohio State University; its school of public affairs bears his name.
His wife of 68 years, Annie, who turned 92 Friday, and their two children are accompanying him to all the festivities.
Glenn served in the U.S. Senate for 24 years, representing his home state of Ohio. He ran for president in 1984. He returned to space in 1998 aboard shuttle Discovery, becoming the oldest spaceman ever at age 77.
Carpenter told the crowd Saturday that he's still waiting for his first shuttle ride, drawing a big laugh.
The Mercury 7 astronauts were immortalized in Tom Wolfe's 1979 book about the space program, "The Right Stuff," which was later made into a movie.
Although Wolfe suggested the nation will never see another hero of Glenn's stature, Carpenter noted, "Maybe one day before too long the great hero John Glenn himself may be replaced by another national hero who represents the command of a Mars crew returned safely."
"John, thank you for your heroic effort and all of you for your heroic effort," Carpenter told the Mercury old-timers. "But we stand here waiting to be outdone."
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