May 3, 1974
John Glenn took the opportunity to address scurrlious statements made by Sen. Metzenbaum. Both men were campaigning for the Democratic nomination for one of Ohio's Senate seats.
From Urban Legends:
Metzenbaum, whose strategy throughout the campaign included questioning Glenn's civilian leadership experience, apparently remarked during a speech that the career Marine and former astronaut had "never met a payroll," or words to that effect. Somehow this morphed into "never held a job" in the press coverage of the campaign (and continues to be reported that way to this day), and Glenn took the straw man and ran with it in a May 3, 1974 debate with Metzenbaum at the Cleveland City Club.
Here, according to political columnist Mark Shields, is what Glenn actually said in that debate (other accounts differ only slightly):
I served 23 years in the United States Marine Corps. I was through two wars. I flew 149 missions. My plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire on 12 different occasions.
I was in the space program. It wasn't my checkbook. It was my life that was on the line. This was not a 9-to-5 job where I took time off to take the daily cash receipts to the bank. I ask you to go with me . . . as I went the other day to a Veterans Hospital and look those men with their mangled bodies in the eye and tell them they didn't hold a job. You go with me to any Gold Star mother, and you look her in the eye and tell her that her son did not hold a job.
You go with me to the space program, and you go as I have gone to the widows and the orphans of Ed White and Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee, and you look those kids in the eye and tell them that their dad didn't hold a job.
You go with me on Memorial Day coming up, and you stand in Arlington National Cemetery - where I have more friends than I like to remember - and you watch those waving flags, and you stand there, and you think about this nation, and you tell me that those people didn't have a job.
I tell you, Howard Metzenbaum, you should be on your knees every day of your life thanking God that there were some men - some men - who held a job. And they required a dedication to purpose and a love of country and a dedication to duty that was more important than life itself. And their self-sacrifice is what has made this country possible.... I have held a job, Howard.
I got an email with this basic story dressed up in some other nonsense. I always investigate "stories with a point" emails before I send them on. They are usually nonsense. In this one a found a great story. I love it, especially since Metzenbaum what a jerk.