I did countdowns at the drop of a hat, with sound effects to match. Shepard was first, and a great thrill for a young boy; but I picked up that Glenn's flight was going to be special.
Of course I wanted to go to space, didn't everybody? Maybe the powers-that-be had their own agenda, but the program spoke to a real and innocent love of adventure; and that "giant leap" we really meant to be for all mankind. At least most of us did.
I didn't understand quite what the problem was that threatened the return; that the re-entry was hot I had to take on faith. (I get it now; and also why keeping the pack in place wasn't the no-brainer I thought then.) But he made it back safely and we all celebrated. I guess we weren't afraid to have heroes then.