NEW CONCORD, Ohio — Viewed through the prism of history, Dec. 7, 1941, represented a pivotal day in the lives of John and Annie Glenn.
A young Glenn was traveling to Muskingum College to attend the senior recital of his future bride, Annie Castor, when his car radio broke the news that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. The United States was at war.
Realizing the recital was a high point in her college career, Glenn decided not to tell her about the attack until the recital concluded. He later recalled he immediately knew that day would forever change both of their lives.
Just a few hours before John Glenn died Thursday, a large crowd gathered at Brown Chapel on the university's campus to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and celebrate the lives and service of John and Annie Castor Glenn.
Sitting in the room where the young couple's journey was molded, a video titled Out of Silence: The Annie Glenn Story brought tears to the eyes of many people of the audience. Throughout her young life, Annie Glenn dealt with the obstacles associated with a disability. A severe stuttering issue made communication nearly impossible for her.
From a projector screen, Annie Glenn spoke about the ridicule she endured and the difficulties she faced doing things most people take for granted: talking on the phone, going to the grocery store, interviewing for a job and anything else that required verbal communication.
Because communication was so difficult for her, her sister, Jane, often completed her sentences. But her childhood best friend, Johnny Glenn, never did.
"He would just wait patiently until I finished trying to get the words out," Annie Glenn told her interviewers in the 2010 video created by Muskingum University Professors Tom German and Jeff Harman.
Friends and colleagues describe the relationship between John and Annie Glenn as a true partnership.
"They are authentic. They are solid," said Susan Hasseler, Muskingum University's president. "They have such a deep respect for each other. I tell people all of the time when discussing the many wonderful contributions each of them have made as individuals not to lose sight of the real story — and that is the partnership John and Annie have."
John Glenn's decision to volunteer for the war effort was the beginning of a lifetime service to the nation that he and Annie Glenn would share. He would go on to serve as an astronaut, a U.S. senator and as a presidential candidate, while she would serve as an advocate for people with communication disorders.
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