Hugh Pickens writes "An era begins to pass as only about 25 percent of today's American population were at least 5 years old when John Glenn climbed into the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule on Feb. 20, 1962 and became the first American to orbit the earth. This weekend John Glenn joined the proud, surviving veterans of NASA's Project Mercury to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his historic orbital flight as Glenn and Scott Carpenter, the two surviving members of the original astronaut corps, thanked the retired Mercury workers, now in their 70s and 80s, who gathered with their spouses at the Kennedy Space Center to swap stories, pose for pictures and take a bow. 'There are a lot more bald heads and gray heads in that group than others, but those are the people who did lay the foundation,' said 90-year-old Glenn. Norm Beckel Jr., a retired engineer who also was in the blockhouse that historic morning, said almost all the workers back then were in their 20s and fresh out of college. The managers were in their 30s. 'I don't know if I'd trust a 20-year-old today.' Bob Schepp, 77, was reminded by the old launch equipment of how rudimentary everything was back then. 'I wonder how we ever managed to launch anything in space with that kind of stuff,' said Schepp. 'Everything is so digital now. But we were pioneers, and we made it all work.'"