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Friday, January 28, 2011

25 years ago today...

do you remember where you were 25 years ago today?

the challenger explosion was my generation's pearl harbor and kennedy assassination.  i remember where i was.

i was in sixth grade (!!!) and our class was excited that we were going to watch the shuttle launch on tv.  this was before it was common for classrooms to have tvs in them.  we were returning from music class when we arrived in our classroom and found the reading specialist, mrs. P, looking grave.

"i have something to tell you.  the space shuttle has blown up".

the laughter and joy we felt as students turned to shock and awe in an instant.  she turned the tv on and we watched the news feed show the liftoff of the shuttle and its subsequent explosion seconds later, in silence.  we asked questions - were the astronauts okay?  why did this happen?  we learned pretty quickly the fate of the crew.  it would take years to find out why it happened.

we were so excited to learn, before the launch, that there was a school teacher on board.  she was going to teach science experiments from space.  it was cool that there was someone on the shuttle who wasn't a real astronaut - she was a teacher, a regular person, just like us and our teachers.  it gave us (well, me) hope that someday we (i) could go in space, if i really wanted to.

i remember that people magazine came out with a special issue that week, with an article about christa mcauliffe.  mom got me an issue and i remember taking it to school to show it off (how sick was i?).  i held onto that issue for many many years.  i don't think i have it anymore - i think i threw it away when we moved to sby years ago.

i vaguely remember president reagan's speech he gave that evening, to soothe a nation that was shook by such a tragedy.  i have my opinions on him, but he did give an eloquent speech.

it took a few years, but the shuttle launched again, and again, with great success, but not without that fear in the back of our minds.  that fear was realized nearly 20 years later, when space shuttle columbia suffered the same fate.  that tragedy happened on a saturday.  i was coming home from buying groceries.  i was barely out of my first trimester with the boy.  it was cold.  and in an instant, i was back in mr. g's classroom, with mrs. p comforting us while tears ran down her face, with a million questions in my head.

"...The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honoured us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'"

1 comment:

  1. I totally remember. I wonder if this is the JFK moment for our generation?
    I was in science class, and an announcement came over the PA system.


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