John Glenn gave this incredible response when a political opponent said he 'never held a job'

John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, a former US senator, and former Marine aviator who saw combat in World War II and Korea, has died at 95.

Glenn is known for a number of accolades throughout his life of service, from the military to the astronaut program and eventually, into politics. So it's worth looking back on his entry into politics, when he first ran for office against an incumbent named Howard Metzenbaum.

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John Glenn through the years
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John Glenn through the years
UNDATED FILE PHOTO - Sen. John Glenn could get a chance to prove he still has "the right stuff" if NASA decides to let him fly aboard the space shuttle, nearly 36 years after his landmark first space flight. NASA said it planned a "major announcement" on Friday, and Glenn, a 76-year-old former astronaut, grinned broadly when asked about reports that he would make the space voyage but offered no hints on January 15. Glenn is shown in his spacesuit in NASA photo taken in 1961 or 1962. SPACE GLENN
(Original Caption) 1962-Astronaut John H. Glenn undergoes last minute mediacl checks befoe the MA-6 launch.
(Original Caption) Ca. 1961-Cape Canaveral, Florida-Astronaut John H. Glenn, Jr., is checked out in his pressure suit before entering the procedures trainer at the Manned Spacecraft Center at the Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. Glenn, a Marine Lieutenant Colonel, was selected as the primary mission pilot for America's manned orbital flight scheduled for late 1961 or early 1962.
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - February 20, 1962 - Astronaut John Glenn, Jr. photographed in space by an automatic sequence motion picture camera. Glenn was in a state of weightlessness traveling at 17,500 mph as this picture was taken.
Astronaut John Glenn (Photo by NASA/Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - At NASA's hangar S, Astronaut John Glenn, Jr. is being suited in preparation for his earth orbital flight aboard Mercury Atlas 6. Feb.20, 1962.
PROJECT MERCURY -- Pictured: (l-r) Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, the first American astronaut to orbit Earth John Glenn at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for Glenn's presentation ceremony of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Distinguished Service Medal on February 23, 1962 -- (Photo by: Fred Hermansky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 26: Astronaut Lt. Col. John Glenn and wife in motorcade greet cheering fans on Pennsylvania Avenue. (Photo by Jack Clarity/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
NATION'S FUTURE -- Pictured: American astronaut Colonel John Glenn (Photo by Bob Ganley/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 3/9/1962-Washington, D.C.- Lt. Col. John Glenn flashes his now famous smile after he was presented two military insignia here today, for his spacetrip around the earth. Glenn received the Navy's 'astronaut's wings' (on his left breast pocket flap) and the Marine Corps' 'astronaut's insignia' (on his right chest).
GREAT EXLPORATIONS WITH JOHN GLENN -- 'The Trail of Stanley and Livingstone' -- Pictured: Col. John Glenn for a documentary through Tanzania to retrace the 1871 route taken on Henry Morton Stanley's search for David Livingstone's missionary -- Photo by: Herb Ball/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
During his campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination, American politician and former astronaut Senator John Glenn (right) accepts a United States Space Camp cap and t-shirt from a young man at the US Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama, January 11, 1984. (Photo Robert R. McElroy/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 1: John Glenn and wife, Annie, pose for a photograph September 1, 1986 in New York City. (Photo by Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images)
U.S. Sen. John H. Glenn Jr. (D.-Ohio), is assisted by suit experts Jean Alexander and Carlous Gillis prior to a training session at the Johnson Space Center (JSC). The STS-95 crew members are getting prepared for a scheduled Oct. 29 launch aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.
UNITED STATES - JULY 22: Sen. John Glenn talks about Alan Shepard at a news conference at the Capitol after learning of his fellow astronaut's death. Glenn was Shepard's backup on the first U.S. space flight and will fly on a shuttle mission this fall. (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Glenn, John Herschel *18.07.1921- Astronaut, USA - Halbportrait, im NASA-Overall - Februar 1999 (Photo by Bonn-Sequenz/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 27: Astronaut John Glenn during the Pledge of Allegiance at the Democratic National Convention 2004, in Boston, Ma.. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/Roll Call/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 24: Former astronaut John Glenn looks on at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on September 24, 2009 in New York City. The Fifth Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) looks to gather prominent individuals in politics, business, science, academics and religion to discuss global issues such as climate change and peace in the Middle East. The event, founded by former president Bill Clinton after he left office, is held the same week as the General Assembly at the United Nations as most world leaders are in New York. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
John Glenn, former Marine Corps pilot, astronaut and U.S. Senator, left, receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 29, 2012. The Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 26: Astronaut and former Ohio Senator John Glenn throws out the first pitch prior to the game between the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees at Progressive Field on August 26, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Former Ohio Senator and NASA astronaut John Glenn and his wife Annie sit in the audience during the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting September 23, 2012 in New York. AFP PHOTO/STEPHEN CHERNIN (Photo credit should read STEPHEN CHERNIN/AFP/GettyImages)
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In 1974, Glenn's military record offered an opening for criticism by his opponent, who was mindful of Americans' anti-war fervor during the Vietnam War. Metzenbaum began calling him "Col. Glenn" to highlight his time in the Marine Corps, and later told him that he "had never met a payroll," which Glenn perceived as being told that his military record and service with NASA didn't qualify as "having held a job."

His response during the debate was remarkable, and at the end of it, he received more than 20 seconds of sustained applause, according to PBS. Here's what he said:

"I spent 23 years in the United States Marine Corps. I lived through two wars. I flew 149 missions. I was in the space program. It wasn't my checkbook, it was my life that was on the line.

You go with me as I did out to a veterans' hospital and look those men with their mangled bodies in the eye and tell them that they didn't hold a job. You go with me to any Gold Star mother and you look her in the eye and you tell her that her son did not hold a job. You go to Arlington National Cemetery — where I have more friends than I'd like to remember — 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, 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 nation possible.

I have held a job, Howard."

Glenn went on to defeat Metzenbaum in the primary and win the general election. He served in the Senate from 1974 to 1999. His speech was also used to motivate a group of US Marines before they went into combat in Marjah, Afghanistan in 2010.

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Social media reaction to John Glenn's passing
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Social media reaction to John Glenn's passing
We are saddened by the loss of Sen. John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth. A true American hero. Godspeed,… https://t.co/TroDhCAmEe
Obama statement on the passing of John Glenn https://t.co/toJ55QjGpN
Today we lost a great pioneer of air and space in John Glenn. He was a hero and inspired generations of future explorers. He will be missed.
We mourn the passing and celebrate the life of Senator John Glenn. His legacy of friendship and discovery will live… https://t.co/TSSlIJDmz6
Aren’t many Heroes left: WWII & Korean War Fighter Pilot. Marine Colonel. NASA Astronaut. Senator. Married 73 yrs. John Glenn RIP 1921-2016
As a boy, John Glenn lifted my eyes to the heavens. Today, they welcome him back.
Our friend John Glenn was a uniquely American hero and one of the finest men Hillary and I have ever known. https://t.co/EjYIfgUFka
The Corps lost a legend today. Col. John Glenn— an astronaut, a senator, a Marine— died at the age of 95. Semper… https://t.co/bFYwRaC8KS
Saddened to hear of the passing of a US hero/astronaut/statesman. His courage inspired a generation to explore & serve. Godspeed John Glenn
Saddened to hear of losing my friend and world space icon John Glenn. Here's my official statement.… https://t.co/rav5rmrQhs
John Glenn was a real explorer with real guts. He inspired the nation w/ his courage and dedication to public servi… https://t.co/DG2uBy4Yyz
Sad news, the true American hero has passed, I am honored to have known him, thinking of his family - thank you for… https://t.co/ph9Sr9c14A
https://t.co/XRN1DDMVqO
Saddened by the passing of #johnglenn, the first American to orbit the Earth. This is a tremendous loss for our nat… https://t.co/ToSFuL5MR5
Today, we join the world in mourning the passing of legendary astronaut, senator and Ohioan John Glenn.… https://t.co/TzFDM5f9Tu
Statement by former President @GeorgeHWBush on the passing of Senator John Glenn of Ohio. https://t.co/BugGLAHadg
RIP John Glenn. Ad Astra https://t.co/53TWVo1gAF
Godspeed John Glenn the best in war the best in peace the best in public service. Condolences to Annie the love of your life and the family
John Glenn’s humility and grace made his life achievements even more moving. Our hearts go out to his entire family. https://t.co/GjzAogv6Gy
An American treasure. Godspeed, John Glenn. https://t.co/zHNwVyujbx
John Glenn, one of the truly great explorers passed into the great unknown. May his spirit, whose restlessness expanded our horizons, RIP.
RIP John Glenn, and thanks for serving our country for so long in so many ways - always with The Right Stuff
John Glenn saw things no human being had ever seen before him. Imagine that.
RIP John Glenn, 95. War hero, Astronaut, Senator. A great American. https://t.co/aa0Y9WdWOR
The first American to orbit Earth, John Glenn illuminated a dark decade with inspiration https://t.co/2bscUZM4Gh
RIP #johnGlenn - his generation of astronauts were called "spam in a can" Glenn was so much more.
John and Annie have been a model for Jane and me, and we send our condolences to Annie & the Glenn family at this difficult time.
A man to admire: https://t.co/p9l9Gwx88m
John Glenn, a true hero, helped usher in a new era & inspired us all. A beloved senate colleague, he will be greatly missed.
"As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind - every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowe… https://t.co/HmdsIc2Ndj
We are saddened to hear of the passing of John Glenn, a true pioneer of space. We salute his remarkable legacy. God… https://t.co/5w9PXztl2o
Former US Senator #JohnGlenn was a true hero. May he rest in the heavenly stars.
Condolences to the family of #JohnGlenn,American hero, former @NASA astronaut & US Senator from Ohio. He had… https://t.co/syL7NtS006
Godspeed, John Glenn (1921-2016): https://t.co/weKmIY3DFG
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