John Glenn, 1921-2016. This story originally published in 2012.
COLUMBUS, OHIO ( — Fifty years after becoming the first American to orbit Earth, John Glenn, who died today at age 95, revealed that while circling the globe in 1962, he secretly laid claim to the entire planet, which he renamed, ‘Johnglenndia.’

John Glenn's first official Senate photo, before aides cleaned it up.

“Explorers claim things, I was an explorer, so I claimed it, as was my right,” the 90-year-old national icon explained in 2012. “As the first American to set eyes upon all the oceans and continents of this world, I said, ‘I claim this planet in the name of myself, and it shall evermore be known as Johnglenndia.’ It was all very legal.”
While most Americans were surprised by the revelation, Glenn’s belief that he claimed Earth for himself was well-known to NASA insiders and former colleagues in the U.S. Senate, where Glenn served for 24 years.
“Oh God, he’d go on and on about it,” said former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole. “In the Senate, he would introduce bills for the preservation of Johnglenndia. At parties he would introduce himself as, ‘John Glenn, Senator of the United States and Sovereignaut of the planet of Johnglenndia.’”

Added former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle: “Whenever we passed legislation that the President had to sign, John would say, ‘I’ll take that. I am his boss, you know.’ And if someone ever asked, ‘John, what on Earth are you talking about?’ he would say, ‘You mean what on Johnglenndia am I talking about.’”
Like Glenn’s fellow senators, NASA and U.S. military officials pretty much played along, not wanting to upset an American hero turned global ruler.
Former Navy frogman Everett Tinker, the first man to greet Glenn when his capsule splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean, remembers thinking the astronaut had space sickness.
“The first thing John said when the capsule popped open was, ‘Ah, faithful subject, it is great to be back home on Johnglenndia,’” said Tinker. “Then he appointed me Royal Governor of the Southern Hemisphere, which was cool.”
Apollo astronaut Michael Collins said he often grew tired of placating his colleague, but he did enjoy the times when Glenn and Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin – the first man to orbit Earth – “really went at each other.”
Glenn gave out these buttons on the campaign trail, despite staffer efforts to stop him.

“John and Yuri would go back and forth for hours yelling,  ‘Yuriland! Johnglenndia! Yuriland! Johnglenndia!’” Collins recalled. “It was like listening to Alexander the Great and Genghis Kahn arguing over who ruled Earth. Except they weren’t Alexander the Great and Genghis Kahn.”
Glenn never even became the U.S. President, although he once gave it a try. But he did win election four times to the Senate, a record some attribute to his Johnglenndia declaration.
“Honestly, John never cared that much about politics,” Dole recalled. “He’d just say, ‘If I lose the election, I’ve still got the planet. Ho hum.’”
In a 2012 interview, Glenn admitted that some of his subjects continued to stubbornly use the term “Earth,” a fact that he could not quite fathom.

“It’s been 50 years. You’d think by now everyone would be on board,” he said. “But rest assured I will move Heaven and Johnglenndia to get what’s mine.”
Copyright © 2012,
Edited © 2016

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