They brought a black and white television set into our fourth grade class and we watched John Glenn’s lift off in 1962. They told us it was a big deal- the first person to orbit the earth but nothing told us it was a big deal as much as the fact that there were televisions in the classroom. TV and school were always antithetical, we thought, and here we were watching current events as something we needed to learn. The United States varied its issuing policy for this event by issuing a stamp for John Glenn’s flight though they never mentioned John Glenn’s name and an entire thematic-space philately-was born that day. Space exploration was tied up with science and technology and American exceptionalism in a way that made us all so proud and also very scared. I remember only four televised events in the 1960’s-John Kennedy’s Cuba embargo speech when the Soviet Union was attempting to put nuclear missiles in Cuba (and I overheard my father saying to my mother that he thought this just might be the end of the world), Kennedy’s assassination, John Glenn’s trip into space and later in the decade the moon landing. Whenever I see the above stamp all the memories of those times come back to me. I have been around stamps all my life and they serve for me as a sort of emotional shorthand. I can remember events very vividly when I see the stamps that were issued to honor them.

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