Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Remembering the Challenger

Today is the 23rd anniversary of the Challenger disaster. I remember this day vividly and the image will always be deeply embedded in my soul, heart and mind. I'm sure many of you remember this heartbreaking moment in our historical drama that is the United States of America. Lives were taken. Taken from families, friendships and the millions of excited schoolchildren watching a deeply loved teacher go away forever. Well, go away from this life forever.

As a Chicago to the core citizen I was still dancing in bliss with the victory of my beloved Bears in the Super Bowl. In the city of big shoulders we were still doing the Super Bowl Shuffle when another type of dream literally died.

This post is in memory of all of my own beloved teachers. I was fortunate and blessed to have gone to some wonderful private schools. These schools were among the finest in the area and I am sure my teachers weren't paid nearly enough as they taught and attempted to inspire a group of kids coming of age in the 1970's. Thankfully, I still keep in touch with several of them. May God bless each of them this day and every day.

To the families of the Challenger crew from that fateful morning, please know that many of us still send our thoughts and more importantly our prayers your way.

"They touched the face of God." President Ronald Reagan

"A Million Old Soldiers Will Fade Away, but a Dream Goes on Forever." Todd Rundgren, 1974

"See, I will not forget you for I have carved you in the palms of my hands." Book of Isaiah, Chapter 51


Dean Treadway said...

25 year ago today, at 10 am, I walked into my college newspaper's offices, ready to work. But the office was was uncharacteristically deserted. I wonderered where everybody was. Someone said something had happened to the Space Shuttle. So I went upstairs and experienced, with everyone else at Georgia State University, the abject horror or what had happened. The shape of those two rockets splitting off from each other and creating a Y of fatal mist in the sky, is unforgettable. I still consider this, along with John Lennon's death and 9/11, to be the single most shocking media moment in my life.

Jane said...

Thank you for reminding us of this important anniversary. I've seen precious little mention in the press today. I have seen 3 space shuttle launches in person, and they were all after the Challenger disaster. People hold their breath now at a launch, and nobody applauds until the ship is far from sight. My brother worked for NASA for 10 years and helped to launch the shuttles. This post made me think of him, may he rest in peace. Reagan's eulogy for the Challenger crew (penned by the amazing Peggy Noonan) was the most poetic and heartbreaking I have ever heard. Thank you for this Judith.

Lisa said...

I have added the video of President Reagan's speech. It's well worth revisiting and is a beautiful speech, as Jane said.

Judith, thank you for this lovely post. I certainly remember the day, even the very conversation I had with the General Manager's secretary at the xerox machine when we discussed how they died doing what they loved.

Jane said...

I had to add one more comment in memory of the Challenger astronauts. About a year after the tragedy, I went to a Hollywood Radio and Television luncheon, and the speaker was Walter Cronkite. He spoke about many things, but the one point I remembered was how he had interviewed some Soviet Cosmonauts who had been up on the MIR space station. And they told him that they were so distraught about the Challenger disaster, that they put up pictures of the entire crew in the MIR to honor them. This was still during the Cold War, but for these Cosmonauts, the American Astronauts were the comrades of their heart. I was so touched by that story. How many human beings have been to the final frontier of space? Less than a hundred, I would think, certainly in the 1980's. And they have a brotherhood that transcends nationality or politics. God bless them all.