>So, today is the anniversary of the 25th year since the Shuttle Challenger exploded just after take-off. As the articles all say, it’s one of those things that causes a Do You Remember moment. Only this one, for people in my age range, takes less than a second. This isn’t like the Gulf War ( I was sitting in a Sbarro’s pizza in Birmingham watching the surreal nighttime bombings). This was very different and very personal.
Although I hardly feel 25 years old these days, I was sitting in class in Junior High School watching the launch on TV. In fact, the whole school was watching the launch. Dare I say, the whole country was watching it? We watched in horror as the shuttle exploded. There was an unexpected silence as everyone tried to process what had happened. Honestly it didn’t make sense. We all waited for the new that it was a hoax, a mistake, we wanted a miracle. That miracle never came.
I’m not sure how anyone else felt about it. You can ever only know your own mind, thoughts, and feelings, can’t you? But after weeks, maybe months, of lead-up to the launch, I felt like I knew Christa McAuliffe. She was not just a teacher, she was MY teacher. At least, she surely could have been. She had young children left motherless. She had such a smile… the type that brightened a room. So, I felt like I knew her.
In fact, the tragedy touched my family more closely even than that. At the time, my dad worked for a supplier to the shuttle program. He worked for one that worked with the O-Rings. Needless to say, the next months were tiring and stressful as they conducted tests to see what had happened. In the end, the fault lay elsewhere, but it was a close-run thing. And, again, it made the tragedy more real.
And, do you know, although prior to Challenger I had been to see a shuttle launch, when I think of space shuttles, I still think of the Challenger disaster. In my mind’s eye, that arc is never really gone. So, on this 25th anniversary, I salute all of the astronauts who have died trying to expand our human knowledge and understanding of our universe.
It’s an interesting juxtaposition that even as man tries to explore and go further, gaining ever more knowledge, others here in my region of the world are experiencing Internet black-outs and cell phone stoppages. The one is ever pushing for greater knowledge the second is pulling it back. And yet, perhaps the greatest lesson for us from Challenger is that no matter the obstacles, the human will finds a way…