8 Inspirational Quotes From Space Pioneer John Glenn

Memorable insights from the first American to orbit the Earth.

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By Nina Zipkin

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John Glenn lived a life filled with firsts.

After serving as a pilot in World War II and the Korean War, he became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962 as a member of the Mercury 7, NASA's first class of astronauts.

In 1998, when he was 77 years old, he flew on board the space shuttle Discovery and became the oldest man to ever travel to space.

Related: Buzz Aldrin Wants You to Know -- the Sky Is Not the Limit

In between those major milestones, he didn't stray far from government work, although this phase of his career was a little more grounded -- from 1974 to 1999, he served as a U.S. senator for his home state of Ohio.

Glenn died at 95 this week, at the James Cancer Hospital at Ohio State University.

In a statement, President Obama said of the astronaut and public servant, "John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond -- not just to visit, but to stay...The last of America's first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on Earth compels us to keep reaching for the heavens. On behalf of a grateful nation, Godspeed, John Glenn."

Read on for the space pioneer's insights about exploration, service and making a difference.

8. "If I can inspire young people to dedicate themselves to the good of mankind, I've accomplished something."

7. "If there is one thing I've learned in my years on this planet, it's that the happiest and most fulfilled people I've known are those who devoted themselves to something bigger and more profound than merely their own self-interest."

6. "If a man faces up to the [unknown] and takes the dare of the future, he can have some control over his destiny."

5. "Don't give in to complacency and cynicism. Don't ignore what is bad, but concentrate on building what is good. Don't take America and the values reflected in our form of government for granted. And never forget that in our democracy, the government is not 'them' -- it is 'us.'"

Related: Winston Churchill's Most Inspiring Quotes

4. "We are more fulfilled when we are involved in something bigger than ourselves."

3. "To sit back and let fate play its hand out and never influence it is not the way man was meant to operate."

2. "We have an infinite amount to learn both from nature and from each other."

1. "Zero G and I feel fine."
Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

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